Baseline Christianity

Our Daily Bread came through again. This time with a reminder from Scripture of how we are to behave as followers of Christ.

Two senses: 1, Minimal behavior standards; 2, As in baseball, the path we must follow.

Tit 3:1-8 ESV
(1) Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,
(2) to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
(3) For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
(4) But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
(5) he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
(6) whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
(7) so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
(8) The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

(1) Ungodly leaders can never take control without God’s permission, so whether or not we agree with our authority figures, we are obligated to obey them. The exception to that principle only applies when said authorities direct us to violate God’s clearly expressed teachings. Be careful, though, challenging the authorities requires godly discernment, and will be costly.

(2) Apostle James wrote, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.” (James 1:26) But he also had much to say about the tongue’s evil potential in chapter three. People will rub us the wrong way, but God gives us no choice but to speak well of everyone, or keep our mouths shut.

(3) No one is a worse sinner than we were before we gave ourselves to Jesus. Oh, we may have done less heinous things, but sin is sin in God’s eyes.

(4-7) This speaks for itself; how can I improve on God’s Word? So, here’s another passage that reinforces this idea:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

(8) These divine directives aren’t optional. If we are truly saved, we will sincerely try to obey God’s Word. The idea of carnal Christians is a myth perpetrated by false teachers, catering to false believers. Those following Peter Pan religion, refusing to grow up in the Lord, are deceiving themselves. As we strive to follow Christ, we will make mistakes, even thoroughly blowing it occasionally, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t trying.

If you are following Christ to the best of your ability, don’t let the enemy heap condemnation on you when you slip up. Apostle Paul said, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:1-2) Just remember, if you weren’t saved you wouldn’t feel grief when you wander off the baseline.

Pray consistently. Learn from God’s Word. Stay close to your Savior, and you’ll turn your base hit into an eternal home run.

Ouch!

In the following excerpt from The Problem of Pain, Uncle Jack (C.S. Lewis, for the uninitiated) plows a bit too close to my own fence, and I hope, yours as well:

Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness. For about a hundred years we have so concentrated on one of the virtues—“kindness” or mercy—that most of us do not feel anything except kindness to be really good or anything but cruelty to be really bad. Such lopsided ethical developments are not uncommon, and other ages too have had their pet virtues and curious insensibilities. And if one virtue must be cultivated at the expense of all the rest, none has a higher claim than mercy. . . . The real trouble is that “kindness” is a quality fatally easy to attribute to ourselves on quite inadequate grounds. Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment. Thus a man easily comes to console himself for all his other vices by a conviction that “his heart’s in the right place” and “he wouldn’t hurt a fly,” though in fact he has never made the slightest sacrifice for a fellow creature. We think we are kind when we are only happy: it is not so easy, on the same grounds, to imagine oneself temperate, chaste, or humble. You cannot be kind unless you have all the other virtues. If, being cowardly, conceited and slothful, you have never yet done a fellow creature great mischief, that is only because your neighbour’s welfare has not yet happened to conflict with your safety, self-approval, or ease.

Folks think I’m a nice guy, an impression I don’t try hard enough to discourage. Instead, I’m a counterfeit, a fake.

“What’s wrong with being thought of as nice?” you may well ask.

“Nothing,” I may well answer, if I weren’t a Christ-follower. You see, anyone can be nice with the proper motivation; maybe she’s singularly gorgeous, he holds your promotion in his clammy hands, they’re well-connected, or you just want to be liked. Under such circumstances your niceness is for your own sake.

Uncle Jack pointed out a painful truth, “… though in fact he has (or I have) never made the slightest sacrifice for a fellow creature.” Here’s a personal example: I know a sister in the Lord who possesses both inner and outer beauty. I used to help her with the yard work on her large, corner lot. My motivation was both selfless and selfish, er, mostly selfish, as I wanted to be close to her and make brownie-points. Was I kind? Or was I simply cunning?

Apostle John, in his first letter to his children in the faith, said a lot about godly love.
1Jn 2:15-16 NASB
(15) Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
(16) For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

While that is all truth, allow me to focus on, “the boastful pride of life.” When I actively seek to be liked, I indulge in that sort of pride; I think I’m a nice guy and want others to think of me in the same way. That has nothing to do with love of my Father God or any of His children, and is instead, worldly. For a Christ-follower, that is a solid no-no.

Some may feel that I am overthinking this issue, but if my concern brings me closer to embracing godly attitudes I’ll overthink everything I read in the Scriptures.

He Did It!

1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Of course, you’ve read this passage before, as I have, but this time it called out to me. God’s promises are real! I know that because 1 Corinthians 1:20 says, “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us,” and God’s Word never fails, any more than He can fail. When God says, “… to the glory of God through us,” He is telling us that we bring glory to Him by believing and living out His promises. That’s all I want to do, all I was born to do. Anything less and I will have lived in vain, despite all the wonderful (yeah, right!) things I’ve done.

Even as a young Catholic I knew God’s Word was true, and The Truth, just as Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Me,” singular, exclusive, absolute. And sixty-eight years of life haven’t changed my certainty of that eternal fact. “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

Nuts! (politely speaking) to all the naysayers and nitpicking “brethren,” who strain at a gnat, just to swallow a camel. Who cares whether I’m a Calvinist or Wesleyan/Arminian, or a pre, post, or pan millennialist? Jesus died for me, and I love Him for it.

Bonhoeffer on Loving Your Enemies

Words and thoughts are not enough. Doing good involves all the things of daily life. “If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink” (Romans 12:20) the same ways that brothers and sisters stand by each other in times of need, bind up each other’s wounds, ease each other’s pain, love of the enemy should do good to the enemy. Where in the world is there greater need, where are deeper wounds and pain than those of our enemies? Where is doing good more necessary and more blessed than for our enemies?

Here is the Lord’s most ignored commandment: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:27-28 That figures; it’s directly related to The Great Commandment.

Most of us are fine with loving our brethren, and even our neighbors, but our enemies? Surely, God never meant me to love my enemies. My enemies are the worst ever, worse even than the guys who nailed Jesus to the cross. He was able to forgive them, so they couldn’t have been all that bad. They only humiliated, tortured, and murdered him.

Of course, that attitudinal description is hyperbole, but you get the point. Fact is, I’m blessed with having no enemies per se, although I have a couple of acquaintances whose company I don’t exactly seek out. Oh, I pray for God’s blessing upon them, but that’s awfully cheap love, if it’s love at all. So, as God convicts me of my rotten attitude, I pray for his love to flow through me to them, with my goal being to bless them with it. I know I can’t do it on my own, so I keep praying.

An unloving attitude isn’t just my own, unique sin. Lots of other Christ-followers struggle with the same thing, ’cause that’s the flesh fighting against God’s indwelling Spirit. But its commonality doesn’t excuse me one iota; I’m accountable for my sin, regardless how many others do the same thing, so my job is to confess it, repent of it, and praise God for his wonderful mercy toward me.

Have I made it clear enough? Refusing to love your enemies is sin! And who is your enemy? Anyone for whom prayer is the last thing you want to do for them. If anyone fits that description, your job is to confess your unloving attitude, and all other sin in your life, to your Lord Jesus, even though he already knows all about it. Then you must turn away from the sin, which in this case means turning toward your enemies with the love that only your Heavenly Father can give you. If that still isn’t clear enough, listen to the Lord Jesus:

Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ (44) But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (45) so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (46) For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? (47) And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? (48) You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

“Perfection” here means completeness, which only God can give you. And he’ll only do that if you want it more than anything else … period.

Relevant Words From Ezekiel

Ezekiel 16:59-63“For thus says the Lord God: I will deal with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant, 60yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant. 61Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you take your sisters, both your elder and your younger, and I give them to you as daughters, but not on account ofthe covenant with you. 62I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, 63that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord God.”

I must grudgingly admit that I get more out of God’s Word when I take time reading it, rather than going with the audio flow, as is my usual practice. Through such a careful reading, I realized the passage above refers to the “everlasting covenant,” which could only mean the Christ’s blood-covenant.

Father God sent his people Israel into exile and subjected them to harsh discipline because they despised his covenant with them. Yet, in his perfect timing, he remembered his covenant with Israel, and reestablished it through his incarnate Word, Jesus the Christ.

Jerusalem’s elder sister, Samaria, and her younger sister, Sodom, represent all the people who were accursed in Jewish tradition:

Ezekiel 16:49-51 ESV
49Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.
50They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.
51Samaria has not committed half your sins. You have committed more abominations than they, and have made your sisters appear righteous by all the abominations that you have committed.

Jerusalem would be ashamed to take her two sisters because they epitomized her abominations, but in Christ they would become her daughters through the new Abrahamic covenant of faith. A unique sign of embracing Christ’s covenant is remembering with disgust and shame, our old life’s degradation, which will cause us to “never open (our) mouth again” by way of self-righteousness. Even so, the Lord God atoned for our sin through Jesus’ innocent blood-sacrifice.For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”(Hebrews 8:12 ESV)

What Is Good?

 John
1:1-3 ESV
  1. In
    the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word
    was God.
  2. He
    was in the beginning with God.
  3. All
    things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made
    that was made.

      One might wonder what all that
has to do with good.
That’s an easy one: And
God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.
And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Genesis
1:31 (ESV)
And
Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good
except God alone,

Mark
10:18 (ESV)

which is why his
creation is good.

      As Mankind was the
culmination of God’s creation, we were naturally included when God
said, “It’s all good.” And as long as his creation was intact,
it remained good. So,
from God’s perspective, we are good when we live the way he created
us to live.

      Oh, how the standard for “good”
has declined. Now, when something pleases us for any reason, we
declare it “good,” and we’re not at all discriminating.

2
Corinthians 5:10 (NASB)
For
we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each
one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what
he has done, whether good or bad.

      But living any other way is
sin. That’s why
apostle Paul wrote,
Romans 3:23 (ESV)

for
all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

That idea wasn’t original with him, though. Paul simply summed up
the body of Scripture, as human depravity is one of its major themes,
as are God’s mercy and justice.

      An observant farmer might
say, “Wait a dad-burned minute. That stool don’t stand!” Human
reason balks at those three principles when we try to understand how
they can coexist. How can God deal justly with disobedient mankind,
and still show mercy? Does he sentence us to community service, as do
today’s judges? Hardly, as that’s neither justice nor mercy. If
God is indeed both just and merciful, he seems to have painted
himself into a corner by creating humanity so we could sin.

What
in the world was God thinking?

      Discerning
God’s ways is indeed a hard thing. Again, we look to apostle Paul
for insight: 1 Corinthians 2:14 (NASB)
But
a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for
they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because
they are spiritually appraised.

And where did he get
that
idea? Isaiah 55:8-9 (NASB)
“For
My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the L
ORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways
higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

      From
the outset, God planned for all these eventualities. Some folks think
of God’s
Plan
of Salvation

as a Jesus thing, or just a gospel tract, but that’s selling God
way
short. In fact, all of history is his plan of salvation, from
creation to humanity’s fall, from the horrible things mankind does
to one another to his church’s work today;
nothing
takes God by surprise! If we can’t see a connection between
mankind’s cruelty and God’s mercy, so what? We don’t even know
which heartbeat will be our last, but God does. As movie spies say,
“We’re on a need to know basis,” and all we need to know is
what he tells us through his word. Oh, sure, some people claim
special knowledge or a new revelation and get folks all riled up, but
they’re full of it, and “it” isn’t God.

What
in the world is God doing?

      Short
of studying, in depth, all of God’s word
and
all of human history, there are a few things we can take to the bank:
Remember the apparent conflict between God’s mercy and justice, and
Man’s depravity? As God made us for
fellowship
with himself, he necessarily shared with us some of his divine
attributes so we could relate to him, and he to us. One of those
attributes is free will.

      God’s eternal Word knew,
when he began creation, that Man would abuse that divine gift of free
will to sell out to the lowest bidder. God even knew that he, in
Christ Jesus, would have to pay the ultimate price to buy us back
from Satan.

      Admittedly,
this seems like a roundabout process when God could have just
prevented the whole sin thing, but as his incredible gift of free
will made sin inevitable, eliminating it simply wasn’t an option.
Instead, by refusing to coerce us into obedience, but
allowing
us to sin, all the while knowing how he would deal both justly and
mercifully with us, God proves to us how wonderful is his love for
us.


Old
Testament Law—Spiritual Nanny
      The most misunderstood
concept in the Bible is the relationship between law and grace. On
one side of the issue are believers who insist that we must obey at
least part of Old Testament law, and then God will love us, and Jesus
will give us his grace-pass into heaven. Then there are the believers
who embrace God’s loving grace as the cure for all but humanity’s
worst transgressions. The one side says, “God’s Ten Commandments
are not Ten Suggestions.” The other says, “Just believe in God
and be nice to your neighbors, and St. Peter will open wide those
pearly gates.”

      Both
of those persuasions ignore God’s truth, revealed in his word.
God’s law is
both
the Old Testament
and
the New Testament, even if they seem to proclaim contradictory
messages.


Apostle Paul distilled this
complex truth into just four Bible verses:
Galatians
3:23-26 (ESV)
Now
before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned
until the coming faith would be revealed.

(24)
So
then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we
might be justified by faith.

(25)
But
now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,

(26)
for
in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

      That’s
a nutshell that encloses a big part of God’s infinite truth. It
tells us
why
God instituted his law, who(Christ Jesus) and what(faith)
fulfills
the law, and who we
become
through faith in Christ Jesus. It’s not simply a “That was then,
this is now” type of thing, because God’s law still applies to
those who are not yet sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Let’s
backtrack for perspective
Galatians
3:5-14

(ESV)
Does
he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so
by works of the law, or by hearing with faith–

(6)
just
as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as
righteousness”?

(7)
Know
then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.

(8)
And
the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by
faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In
you shall all the nations be blessed.”

(9)
So
then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man
of faith.

(10)
For
all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is
written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things
written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”

(11)
Now
it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for
“The righteous shall live by faith.”

(12)
But
the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall
live by them.”

(13)
Christ
redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for
it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”–

(14)
so
that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the
Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through
faith.

      In verse five we can
see the apostle wrote this to a group of believers who were a bit
confused about the law-versus-faith issue. So we shouldn’t feel
slow if we can’t seem to grasp the concept.

      Verse
six gives us a role-model for faith. Apostle Paul quoted
Genesis
15:6

to establish faith’s part in Abraham’s righteousness before God.

      Verse seven takes the
idea one step further. The author establishes our identity as “sons
of Abraham,” or honorary Hebrews, through faith.

      Verse
eight takes a flying leap, at least where the Jews are concerned. He
uses
Genesis
12:3

as the basis for his claim that all peoples, not just God’s chosen
Hebrews, are qualified for justification by faith.

      As verse nine just
restates that fact, let’s jump to verse ten, where he wades into
even deeper water. Here he slaps the religious Jews—and all who
depend on the law for justification—sharply on their pride, by
openly declaring they are under a curse because they can’t keep the
whole law.

      Verse
eleven brings in another Old Testament passage,
Habakkuk
2:4
,
and yes, there was such a prophet. Using that passage, Paul says the
fact that the law cannot justify
anyone
is evident, meaning
anyone
who has half a brain should see it.

      Verse
twelve pushes the two-edged sword even deeper, with a quote from
Leviticus
18:5
.
Now we see that “the law is not of faith,” explaining why those
who lived by the law could never be fully justified by it.

      Till
now, Paul has talked a lot about faith, but he wasn’t specific as
to that faith’s object. With verse thirteen he ties up that loose
end by saying plainly,
“Christ
redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.”

(
Deuteronomy
21:23
)
What a powerful declaration!

      Verse fourteen
continues that thought, tying up the faith-gift of God with a
beautiful bow.
      So, to answer the title
question, we are good when we live as God originally intended.

In Case You Missed It

This is coming your way so you’ll be sure not to miss it, as it describes a critical aspect of life in Christ Jesus. As usual, I’ll contribute my own take at the end. Enjoy, or be convicted, whichever shoe fits.

Winners And Losers

Who Is Wise?

        The worst thing a preacher can do—the quickest way to get fired—is to “preach at” individual congregants’ wrongdoing, especially those of the more tenured saints. On the other hand, Jesus’ brother James—Ya’aqov in Hebrew—stood out from his brethren by living an entirely sanctified, righteous life. His community revered him as “James the Just.” And other sources call him, in Hebrew, “Ya’aqov the Sadiq,” or James the Brother. We can tell by the contents of James’ letter that he didn’t mind crossing the “saints” who had become smug and judgmental due to their position within the church, as the following excerpt attests.

13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.

15Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.

16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.(James 3:13-17 NIV)

        Wisdom and understanding are noble pursuits. Most of us will readily admit we possess far too little of those characteristics. And the ones who won’t admit those shortcomings? Well, we just relegate them to the loony bin with all the other self-deluded wackos.
        There has to be some way of discerning the higher qualities in those we encounter, other than taking their word for it. The first direct product of wisdom that James mentions is a life of good works done in humility. Of course, discerning the works of those we don’t know well can be a dicey proposition. And even those we think we know well can be clever enough to carry on an Academy Award Winning performance, both of good works and of humility. So there must be other ways of discerning genuine, heavenly wisdom.
        In verses 14 and 15, Ya’aqov the Lord’s brother gives us the other side of the “Wisdom Equation.” The “wisdom” that is not from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish, is often as hard to discern as the Gold Standard of true wisdom. Perhaps we can call it “fool’s gold.”
        Many who succeed in this world demonstrate that same worldly wisdom, and are proud of the bitter envy, and selfish ambition they harbor in their hearts. Others, depending upon their audience, flat-out deny the envy and ambition that fills their hearts. Oddly enough, we find blatantly religious folks in both camps. If one were to suggest to them that such worldly wisdom is carnal, unspiritual, or of the Devil, there’d be “hell to pay.”
        Human affairs have always produced certain … ah … “fruit,” such as vs. 16 enumerates: Such fruit looks and tastes a lot like disorder and every evil practice. The secular world’s remedy of choice for this bitter fruit is regulation and control. We all know how well that works. Back in 1887, Lord Acton summed it up rather succinctly: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”
        The corollary to Lord Acton’s Law would be, “Laws are made to be successfully exploited by powerful men.” Of course, we all know that “powerful” and “rich” are synonymous.
        One caveat is in order here: History has witnessed many wealthy people who refused to succumb to Lord Acton’s Law, or, once corrupted, repented openly and liberally of their corruption. They were the philanthropists, the agents of righteous and social change, and even a few ministers who underwrote effective humanitarian and gospel works. Nowhere does the Bible say wealth is inherently sinful. But love, or even more often envy, of wealth has brought down many.
        But Ya’aqov the sadiq isn’t finished with us yet. Verse 17 lists other characteristics that, if practiced successfully, guarantee the practitioner will conspicuously lack worldly power. Such things as purity, love of true inner peace, deference to others’ needs, submissiveness, mercy, good fruit-bearing, impartiality and sincerity, virtually assure those who possess them of running at cross purposes with the world system.
        And the apostle’s parting statement in chapter three sounds rather like a religious platitude. But listen carefully to the words and what they mean: Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

The Real vs. The Counterfeit

        Sounds so nicely passive, doesn’t it. Just try it and see how easy it is. The world cries for peace, but do they really want it? No, the cost of righteousness is far too high.
        The Biblical fruit of the Spirit from Galatians chapter five sounds nice: Love-Joy-Peace-Patience-Kindness-Goodness-Faithfulness-Gentleness-Self-control. Let’s all serve it up in HUGE portions. Just go out and pluck that fruit off the Tree of Life ’til the basket overflows.
        But there’s one thing we harvesters must remember: The world is full of counterfeit spiritual fruit, and it is quite clever. They are infatuation instead of love, situational joy, aggressive peace-seeking, grudging tolerance instead of patience, altruism rather than kindness, and religious, Sunday-righteousness.
        And the last four are simply convincing performances of superficial goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These counterfeits are convincing enough to fool anyone, so we can’t rely on our own discernment to know them. In fact, our attempts at discerning spiritual fruit can easily head us into the sin of judgmentalism. For that reason, Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.(Luke 6:37 NIV)
        So, how can we know the true fruit from the counterfeit fruit? Simple! Care for your own, and let God care for the rest.
        John the baptizer said it right. Speaking to all the religious leaders who came out to the Jordan River to make a show of righteousness, he said, Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.(Matthew 3:8 NIV)