I get unsatisfied sometimes, with how things seem to be going in my life. I want to be further along in certain lessons, I want to have accomplished more good things for God, I want to have been a better steward of my talents and resources, I want to see how my efforts have been worthwhile, etc. I want to feel good about it all and be reassured that I am following God’s plan for my life. Honoring God with my life. Doing my best with my life.
Honestly, what it boils down to is that I crave fruit. I want to see positive results and feel good. I want to appreciate the impact of my obedience, not continually question it when things don’t look the way I expected. I really want to enjoy the results; taste the fruit.
But I’ve learned, and am definitely still learning, that craving fruit never leads to satisfaction. Even when fruit immediately grows, it just means that I immediately want even more! That sugar rush feels good, but it doesn’t actually fill me up.
Jesus says, in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
He imparts this wisdom, but I have to actually take it to heart and apply it. Instead of craving fruit, I need to crave righteousness. I need to crave doing what is right because I am a child of God, not crave the results of doing what is right. I need to desire obedience because of my relationship with Jesus, not crave the rewards of obedience.
The fruit we produce is not meant to sustain us—Jesus is. He also says, in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” A branch is not meant to consume the fruit it produces! Our sustenance and life come from the vine that we are attached to. If we are drawing spiritual nourishment from our relationship with Jesus, then we will be satisfied and filled. Our spiritual hunger will be satiated.
We may appreciate the fruit that we bear, but it is intended for the Gardener to consume—not the plant. Therefore, if we spend our efforts chasing after the fruit, our craving will never be satisfied. We will never be filled! Instead, we must crave the righteousness that flows from the vine that is Jesus. When we are more concerned with our connection to Him, than on what is growing at our tips, we will naturally shift our craving in His direction.
This sounds so great…in theory. However, like all disciplines, it requires intentional effort—especially at first. Here are a few things I’ve been able to use to keep my connection to Jesus strong, and focus on righteousness instead of fruit:
- Remembering that life is about His glory, not mine. I can find joy in obedience if I keep the focus off of myself.
- Remembering to surrender my expectations about the outcome. This takes the pressure off of me to produce the fruit because I am simply called to live righteously—not control what happens.
- Deciding that God’s assignment for my life is better than the assignment I might dream up. He writes a better story than I do, but sometimes that means I must wait to see any fruit from my obedience.
Again, Jesus said that when we hunger and thirst after righteousness, we will be filled. As long as we remain in Him, pursuing His righteousness, we remain filled. Like a stream that never runs dry, or the nutrients flowing through the xylem of a healthy plant, we remain filled but not stagnant. The righteousness courses through us, producing growth naturally. We see the fruit, appreciate its’ beauty, but stay focused on our connection to Jesus because that is who we have learned to hunger for.