This morning God asked me to wake up with Him to see the sunrise. Even though the sun has not yet risen, we have had a good morning, the two of us. I read Luke chapters 1-3 and some things came clear to me that I had perhaps never thought about quite like I did this morning. John the Baptist’s preaching has always been interesting to me, and two analogies in particular have peaked my interest this morning: the trees that do not produce good fruit and the chaff that will be burned up with unquenchable fire.
It caused me to evaluate my life, because these two things do not necessarily have anything to do with what we do, but rather with who we are. By our own efforts, we cannot produce fruit in our lives. Fruit, rather, is the evidence of a healthy tree, one that is receiving proper nourishment and is firmly connected to its life source. John the Baptist does not say, “Produce fruit by obeying the law and everything God says to do.” Rather, he says, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance (3:8).”
I had never noticed or thought about this before. Repentance is the key to producing good fruit in our lives. We can study Scripture all day long and follow every rule and teaching set forth in its pages, but if we neglect to spend time humbly in God’s presence every day, asking Him to reveal all that is unholy in our lives, then we will be like the tree that does not produce good fruit that will be cut down and thrown into the fire. If we are in the center of His will, repentance will be at the center of our lives. There is no room for pride in a heart that understands how undeserving it is of God’s grace.
The part that really struck me was the part of John’s speech about the chaff. He says: “’I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (3:16-17).’” Dictionary.com defines chaff as “worthless matter, refuse.” I then asked myself: what in my life is chaff? What is worthless? What is trash?
Two things came to mind: my laziness and irresponsibility. Lately, I have noticed that the state of my apartment and how messy it is has really been a hindrance to my peace and a stealer of my joy. Whenever I would come home, I would immediately be stressed out. I could never find anything, and I often leave my apartment in the morning for work frustrated because it took me fifteen minutes to find my keys. The past couple days I have spent significant time cleaning out and throwing away all the useless papers and trash lying around. It had been quite a while since I had done inventory on how much stuff I had accumulated and it’s amazing to me how it happened without me even noticing. Until my life had been overrun by useless trash, I was oblivious to its affect on my peace.
The same could be said spiritually. How much useless stuff is lying around on the floor of our hearts? There is so much chaff in my life, lying around and cluttering the place that I say I have dedicated as a holy place for God. These things might include excuses: not following through on goals and ideas given to me by God because of Excuse A, Excuse B, Excuse C, etc. My life is overrun by these excuses, so much so that the dream is lost in the clutter. God longs to come into my heart and gather the wheat (the things that are from Him) and burn the chaff (the things that are not from Him). Harvest time has come in my life. Am I ready to allow Him clearance to purify and cleanse me of all that is unholy about who it is I have become?
I want to be a tree that produces fruit, so therefore I must make repentance and humility the pursuit of my life. I want to do God’s will with all that I am, so I must allow Him to make me holy. I need to give Him access and free reign to enter the threshing floor of my heart and separate the wheat from the chaff. I must be willing to let go of all that is worthless matter, that I might become the righteousness of God. The grace of God is a gift that I do not deserve, but it is also a love that does not leave me where I am at. The Holy Spirit is always changing us, growing us, and purifying us. May it be so in my life today.