Now we come to something very important. We should want to produce “good fruit” and store up treasure in heaven, but just doing good things is not enough. Going through the motions to do good things because they seem right, or because someone told us to do them, or to impress someone, or for any reason other than what God explained really does no good at all. And what did God say? That is another question someone asked Yeshua. He answered it this way:
But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment, And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40 NKJV)
Love, then, should be our motivation – love of God, and love of other people. The Apostle Paul said as much when he wrote, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Galatians 5:14 NKJV) But then we come to another question: What is love?
Every one of us requires correction now and then. This timely word from fellow Hebrew Roots blogger K. Gallagher at Grace in Torah serves as a reminder not only to Messianic believers, but to all who have a testimony of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) about the basics of our faith. There is no substitute for the fruit of the Spirit, which is the only genuine evidence and measure of our walk with Messiah.
© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014. Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Fruit of the Spirit
There is no mystery that the followers of the God of Israel and His Messiah are supposed to produce godly fruit. After all, that is how we are told we will know one another… by their fruit. But there is some controversy as to what that fruit will look like. Regardless of your view, if you follow the God of Israel, we can all agree to…
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Why do we follow God? When we get alone, away from people who expect us to be good disciples of Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ), and have a chance to be honest with ourselves, what is the real reason we proclaim our allegiance to Yeshua? Is it just for “galactic fire insurance” – that promise of eternal salvation (John 3:16)? Is it the promise of a rewarding life on this earth (Mark 10:29-31)? Is it in hope of escaping trouble and stress (John 14:27). Or is it truly to follow God whatever He requires, and whatever circumstances come about?
These questions fall into the category of “counting the cost”. Yeshua presented the concept in this way:
Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:25-33 NKJV, emphasis added)
If we are to take Yeshua at His word, then His expectations of us to produce “good fruit” means that somehow we are to store up treasures in heaven rather than on earth. But what does that mean? Obviously it means making God our priority in life, or at least starting by placing Him higher on our priority list. That’s what relationship with Him is all about. Yeshua can help us understand this. Once a young man came to ask Him about that very subject. He wanted to know how he could “inherit eternal life”. Here is what Yeshua told him:
Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:21-22 NKJV)
Running with the Marines
Long-distance running has been one of my favorite activities. I am not too old to try a marathon one day, but so far I must remain content with completing several half marathons. My favorite race is the Marine Corps Historic Half in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It truly is a community event. The race starts at the exposition center high up on the ridge west of Fredericksburg, and for about eight miles runs gently downhill through the historic city and past Mary Washington University until it reaches the Rappahannock River. All along the way there are bands playing, choirs singing, school and church groups handing out water, a children’s drum chorus from a local school, and of course Marines everywhere. They mark the course, direct the runners, provide first aid when necessary, and cheer on everyone just by their presence. There is something very special about a Marine, and even in a long race like a half marathon the sight of that uniform brings encouragement and confidence. And the runners do need it, particularly as the miles add up. Once the course reaches Sophia St. next to the river, it runs level for about two and a half miles, and the cheering crowds begin to thin out. About the time the runners pass the VFW post, the only people there to offer encouragement are a couple of representatives from the Rappahannock Nation, beating drums to remind everyone that long ago all the land was theirs.
Let’s look some more into this question of God wanting to kill you. Am I serious about that? Yes, deadly serious. God Himself is deadly serious about it. He does not want anyone who is in only halfway. Yeshua put it like this:
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 5:24 NKJV)
What’s the point of Yeshua giving us this example of how to die? Why would He teach the world how to be humble by letting Himself get killed?
The point is that getting “saved” is not a one-time deal. It takes only a moment to decide to believe in Yeshua, but it takes a whole lifetime to learn what that means. In fact, Yeshua told us to count the cost before deciding to follow Him (Luke 14:26-33). He knew we would want to stay in our own little comfortable worlds and serve ourselves rather than serve God, so He explained from the beginning that following Him would take everything we have – including our lives.
One big problem people have with this being saved thing is that it just seems too easy. They think, “You mean that’s all I have to do? Just tell people I believe Yeshua is the Messiah, and believe God brought Him back from the dead, and then I’ll be saved?”
YES! That’s all you have to do. It’s simple, but “simple” doesn’t mean “easy”. It’s actually very hard for two reasons.
Do you believe God really wants us to be reconciled with Him – to be friends with Him again? And do you really believe that Messiah Yeshua is the provision God made for us to be reconciled?
It may help to have a reminder about what it means to believe Yeshua of Nazareth is the Messiah. Here’s what He claimed to be:
– The only Way to approach God (John 14:6)
– Absolute Truth (John 14:6)
– Life (John 14:6)
– The Resurrection from the dead (John 11:25-26)