Ripened: Part One

When Jesus said that the purpose of our salvation is to bear lasting fruit (read last week’s post), he was not ignorant of what that statement entailed. He knew that a fruit tree does not bear fruit overnight. Rather, fruit is the result of many years of development and growth.

He intentionally chose to use the metaphor of bearing fruit to indicate that our purpose is realized through a process. Like a fruit tree, we are intended to grow.

Instead of us feeling pressure to be perfect, Jesus wanted us to breathe in the grace that we grow into His calling on our lives.

In 2 Thessalonians 1:11, Paul prayed a specific prayer over the Thessalonians about what it means to experience the process of spiritual growth until Christ’s second coming. He wrote:

We constantly pray for you
that our God may make you worthy of his calling,
and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness
and your every deed prompted by faith.

First, Paul’s statement that he “constantly prays” for the Thessalonians is key, indicating that this is an on-going request for an on-going process. He first asked that God would make them worthy, or fitting, of His calling on their lives. This reinforces the idea that God is constantly working to make us into a person who is fitting for His calling of bearing lasting fruit.

Paul continued that he is also “constantly” praying that God would bring their desires and deeds to fruition, or a state of completion. Just as fruit undergoes the process of being brought to fruition, or being ripened, so we too are being ripened by God to complete what salvation has begun.

{ripened}: made mature; brought to completeness or perfection

God desires to grow us to the point of maturity and completion, until we attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).

Notice that God is the only one who does anything in this verse. He makes us worthy of His calling, and he brings us to fruition. He is the doer of these actions. Only by God’s power actively working in us can we be made mature and complete in Christ.

This is good news for imperfect people: God is not looking to engage with perfect people. He’s most interested in perfect-ing people.

Therefore, the way we engage in the process of spiritual growth, or sanctification, is not by working to make our deeds perfect. Instead, we engage in the process of spiritual growth by following Paul’s example, constantly praying and asking God to do His perfecting work inside of us.

As we let go of striving to make ourselves perfect and look to God to do the work, we begin to experience His power in our lives. That power comes when we believe that God alone can and will do the work that He has called us to do.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 says it this way:

May God Himself sanctify you through and through. [. . .]
The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.

Let us constantly pray that God would make us a people fitting for our calling, trusting God to do the ripening work He desires to do in our lives. He is faithful, and He will do it.

Father, thank You that you don’t require us to be perfect. Thank You for the grace of the process of growth. Help us to let go of striving for perfection, and instead seek to behold the One who is perfect. We believe that because you alone are perfect, You alone have the power to perfect us. Help us to be patient and trusting as we are ripened by You. We believe that You are faithful, and You will do it.