Best of Daily Reflections: Living a Fruitful Life, Part 4
“And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.”
Recently, I have been reflecting on the Parable of the Sower, focusing especially on Luke 8:15: “And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.” I have been asking the question: How can we live fruitful lives? So far, we’ve seen that fruitful living, according to Jesus, requires open-hearted listening to and faithfully clinging to his Word. Today, we’ll look at a final element of fruitful living in Luke 8:15.
Notice the curious ending to this verse: “and patiently produce a huge harvest.” The original Greek says that those who receive and cling to the Word “bring forth fruit with patience.” The word translated as “patience” doesn’t simply have the sense of waiting for a long time. It is often translated as “endurance.” It suggests, not just an extensive wait, but a challenging one.
Jesus understands that fruitful living does not come easily. Indeed, God intended for human life to be fruitful without undue stress. But sin changed all of that. In Genesis 3, God predicts that the woman would still live fruitfully by giving birth, but only with pain and conflict (3:16). The man would still harvest from the earth, but only with difficulty (3:17-19). Even when we begin to live in God’s new creation through Christ, fruitfulness requires patient endurance. We have to labor faithfully for a long time, putting up with all measure of challenges and discouragements.
I expect that patience has always been a difficult thing for many people to exercise. But today’s world might just be the most impatient in all of human history. Technology enables and demands instant responses. If my Internet connection is even a tiny bit slow, I feel my gut tensing up. If I don’t get a quick response to an email, I can feel angry or rejected. And so it goes. Thus, we will find it harder and harder to bear fruit for the Lord with patience. We want results. And we want them now...or even yesterday!
Here is a truth from God’s word to which I need to cling today. Bearing fruit, real fruit, lasting fruit, doesn’t happen quickly. It requires patience, even endurance. May God grant —me and —you the grace to persevere.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Are you a patient person? Are you someone who can endure in difficult times? Are you patient and enduring in your labor for the Lord? Are you willing to accept the fact that fruitfulness will take time? What helps you to be patient?
PRAYER: Ugh, Lord! I know that’s not a very thankful way to begin my prayer. But that’s how I feel. Ugh! I hear your Word today and realize how impatient I can be. I receive your truth as truth, but my heart isn’t exactly rejoicing.
I suppose that my longing for a quicker, easier fruitfulness is, in some way, a longing for what you once created, and thus a longing for the new creation that is to come. But I know that my impatience also reflects my immaturity, my sinful rejection of your timetable, my all-to-ready embrace of the “I-want-it-now” ethos of my culture. Forgive me, Lord, for my wanting things my way, in my time.
Help me to be patient. Help me to endure. Help me to be faithful in my labors for you, leaning upon you for strength and wisdom. Help me to keep on doing what you have called me to do, trusting you both for the results and for the timing.
By your grace alone, dear Lord, will I be able to live a fruitful life. May it be so! Amen.