Tag: spiritual fruit

Of Mice and Men

Years ago, we lived in Missouri and our neighbor, Trudy, had a cat that liked to regularly deposit a dead mouse at her back door. Typically Trudy tossed the mouse in the trash before anyone else saw it, but one morning I stopped by early, and there it was! Yuck!

Not being a cat-person, and revealing my ignorance of cat behavior, I asked Trudy what that was all about and Trudy explained, “She thinks she’s giving me a present. It’s what cats do.”

Right! Just what every woman wants: a dead, somewhat bloody, mangled mouse dropped on the doorstep first thing in the morning. Clearly the cat didn’t understand Trudy. And, I didn’t understand the cat.

But think about it, that cat worked hard for that mouse. This was a house cat for the most part, so to get to the field, she had to get out of the house. Then she had to cross a storm run-off ditch to get to the field. Then, she had to find the mouse in a very large field. And, she had to catch him. Her gift shopping had to be done quickly. Even with all the hard work and effort, her gift went straight to the trash.

I think that is exactly how God sees our efforts to please him if we are not saved.  No matter how hard we work to please God, no matter how many gifts of generosity, service, philanthropy, and kindness to others we do, each one is like laying a dead mouse at God’s feet and saying, “Here’s another present!”

It’s just all dead mice.

God is not impressed with any work that we do to earn his favor, or our salvation. He doesn’t find it pleasing. He tells us this in Romans 8:8 “Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”

To please God, we must belong to God. We must have faith in the God who saves and in the instrument of that salvation: God’s one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Sometimes I think we get the cart before the horse, and we try to show God that we are worthy of salvation, so we bring him gifts… dead mice. Instead, we need to come to him for salvation, believe what He says, and receive the salvation that he offers.

Then, we do have to get to work! He has ordained works for us to do, works that prove our faith, not earn our faith. It must be in that order. When we work for God because of our faith, he not only finds our gifts acceptable, but he rewards them.

One day, we will have the privilege of giving gifts to Jesus. We will not give him dead mice; we will lay our crowns at his feet.

At a Texas Winery

My son and daughter-in-law took me to lunch at a winery outside of Austin, Texas for my birthday.  As we were waiting for our reservation, we wandered up and down the rows of harvested vines, enjoying the sunshine, and marveling at God’s handiwork. We also marveled at whatever it was that was coiled around the support wires.

I have to confess, it took us a few minutes to figure out what we were looking at. Coming from Illinois, we’re familiar with barbed wire, but this wasn’t barbed and it wasn’t wire. It was coiled and it was hard, woody even. We finally realized it was the hardened leftover tendrils that had connected the grapevine to the support wires.

 These tendrils were really interesting. Some of the tendrils were multiple coils a couple of inches long, and some were just one or two coils. The tendrils were so hard you couldn’t pull them off the wire, but clearly, they were at one time a part of the vine.

When the tendril was attached to the vine it was flexible, strong, and green. It had use, purpose and worth: it attached itself to the wire supports, fence posts, or whatever else was around, pulled the branches toward the sun, and lifted them up so that the grapes could hang down. It was a necessary part of the grape vine.

However, once the harvest was complete, the tendrils were left behind, separated from the branches and from the vine; useless, worthless and purposeless.

As Christians, attached to Christ, we have use, worth and purpose, but apart from Christ, we can do nothing.

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.

We think we can do things apart from Christ. We have ability, education, great insights, personality, creativity, and generosity. We understand things and teach others, we might even talk to people about Jesus; but our work has no eternal value.

When it is tried by fire, it will burn up, and we will stand before Christ as one escaping the flames with only the ashes of our life’s work to place at his feet.

However, if we remain in Christ, and he in us – not next to him, not drawing our strength from him – but allowing him to live out his life through us, we will continue to bear spiritual fruit that will last for all eternity. Apart from him, we become a hardened, useless, purposeless, worthless piece of dry tendril reminding ourselves of who we used to be, and what we used to do.

Colossians 2:6-7 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

The tendrils were interesting, but that is all. Apart from Christ, would we even be that?