Ripened: Part Two
I’ll never forget the first time that I experienced God producing lasting fruit in my life.
Someone had written an unkind post about me on social media, publicly calling me out by name to ensure that I knew the remark was intended for me.
Normally, I would have reacted by putting that person in her place. Confronting her. Belittling her in an increasing measure to make sure she was too afraid to do it to me again. Retaliation was something I knew how to implement all too well.
This time, though, something was different. I went to my room, closed my door, and prayed for my friend. I prayed for the person who needed to belittle others in order to esteem herself (the very same thing I had done for years of my life). For the first time, I saw her need instead of my hurt.
As I was praying for God to move in power in her life, I remembered Matthew 5:43.
I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. And I realized that as I was praying for Him to move in power in her life, He was moving in power in mine. I was in the middle of a miracle.
I began crying tears of joy because the Word of God was coming to life in my heart. Not only was I doing the Word of God, but I also desired to do it. My heart genuinely felt love for someone who had acted in hate toward me. God was sprouting the fruit of love in my heart, and I couldn’t help but stand in awe of what was happening inside of me.
In Part One, we established that we can only be ripened - brought to completeness and perfection - by God’s power. We cannot perfect ourselves because it is by His power that He brings us to fruition.
2 Thessalonians 1:11 communicates that God’s process of ripening is two-fold: that by His power he might bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.
God’s plan is to change far more than our outward deeds. Even our desires for goodness must be brought to completion and perfection.
God longs to transform the heart behind our deeds equally as much as He longs to change our deeds themselves. If He changes our desires, then our deeds will naturally flow from our transformed hearts.
Only God can transform hearts, and Scripture makes it clear that God loves to do things that only He can do.
Because then He gets the praise He so rightfully deserves.
2 Thessalonians 1:12 continues, We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you and you in Him.
God transforms us by His power so that it will be for His glory.
If we are going to be ripened by His power and for His glory, then we will often be in situations where the fruit of the Spirit cannot come from our own strength.
God often positions us in circumstances where the counterpart of the fruit of the Spirit would naturally occur. This makes us dependent on His power and guarantees that He will receive glory.
If you find yourself in a circumstance that would normally evoke worry and anxiety, it is so that God, by His power, might grow the fruit of peace.
If you find yourself in a prolonged period of waiting, it is so that God, by His power, might grow the fruit of patience.
If you find yourself in a situation where hate and bitterness would normally overtake, it is so that God, by His power, might produce the fruit of love in its place.
It is challenging to put words around what happens in our hearts when we experience the power of God transforming us into the image of Christ. One thing is for sure, though: we know that it is not our own doing.
The Greek word for glorified is a combination of the words “en” and “doxa”. The word “en” literally means inside (in this case, inside of us), and the word “doxa” comes from the base meaning of “the awesome light that radiates from God’s presence and is associated with his acts of power.”
The reason that God is ripening us is so that the name of Jesus might shine in us as brightly as the radiant light that emanates from the presence of God.
God’s power is like a light shining in the dark places, from His throne and into our hearts.
When this happens, even in a moment as small as praying for those who persecute you, Jesus’ name is made beautiful in our lives. Jesus’ name is given the highest status - the name above every name - because His light can never be overcome by the darkness, hard as it may try to overtake it.
The beauty and glory of God are meant to be displayed in the form of lasting fruit in our lives.
In John 15:8, Jesus says, This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
If we are truly disciples of Jesus, we will bear much fruit, and our fruit will always point back to the one with the power to make it grow. For His glory and for His fame.
Father, You are far more powerful than changing only our actions. Thank You that You change our hearts, too. Because You alone are God and because of Your matchless power, You alone deserve glory and honor and praise. Help me to carry this reverence for You in me as I go about my daily activities. Help me to look to You in expectation and then give You every ounce of praise as You make me like Jesus. I trust that what You do for Your glory is also for my benefit. Amen.