I pulled a bag of grapes from the fridge the other day. They looked firm and plump and as I rushed throughout the kitchen, focusing on other tasks, I didn’t think much about the handful of grapes that I was about to pop in my mouth; that is until I took my first munch.
What my mind anticipated to be firm, plump fruit flesh was actually mushy. The second bite was no better than the first and the third, well, it sent me in the direction of the trash can.
What had I just put into my mouth? Those grapes looked really good! But, Ugh. Yuck. Yikes. Blech. The inside flesh was not at all what I expected.
Producing Good Fruit
John 15 talks about grapes, or rather the vine upon which grapes will grow.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:1-2
Just like those pesky grapes that looked to be fresh and edible, but really weren’t, we have the potential to be the same in our daily lives. A sharp looking clothing outfit, an ability to speak well in public, finishing top in an academic class, or dare I say, being the best volunteer at church — all of these are great components, but if the inside doesn’t match the outside, then you’re headed for the trash can. Outward appearance will never hide what’s truly in the heart.
So, what is the key component to making sure a positive looking outside reflects a humble, faith filled inside?
Titus 2:12 says,
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.
But let’s dig into it even deeper: HOW do we say no to ungodliness and worldly passions? It involves dying – a very important death that you and I must be willing to do.
We must be willing to die to ourselves.
What is Dying to Self?
Dying to self means saying no to a flashy outward appearance when we realize it’s just covering up a hateful heart on the inside. It means asking God to show us how to step aside from anger, jealousy, struggles, rejection, or anything else the enemy might use to try and tarnish the reality of who we are designed to be.
Dying to self means realizing that sports can be important, but can’t be more important than God.
Hanging out with friends is fine, but only if that time doesn’t sacrifice your time with God.
Dying to self might mean turning a different direction in your career or putting aside a specific desire so your family can be number one.
Ultimately, however, dying to self means truly making God the pilot in your life. It’s easier to say than to do. But doing it is a path to the life Christ created you to experience.
Here’s the bottom line
Dying to self is hard. But it gets easier the more you decide that you’re going to push through the tough times. And the best part is, you’re not alone. God wants to walk with you through it all. Dying to self truly is the path to ultimate living.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Those grapes I randomly ate were not just disappointing, they left an unpleasant taste in my mouth after I quickly spit them in the trash! Applying that experience to my life, I surely don’t want to simply look good on the outside, but emit a putrid aftertaste to those around me!
Dear Heavenly Father, please show me the areas of my life where I am holding onto my own wants and desires. Please give me the courage to step away from the things that don’t align with you. Bring people into my life who will encourage me to walk in your way. Make your path clear. I know that living for self is not truly living. Help me die to my own selfish desires and open my eyes to a life that will give glory and honor to You. Amen