How do you gauge your Christianity? How do you measure the state of your walk with God, or for that matter, your entire spirituality or even existence? It is true that you can judge a tree by its fruit. So, if you’re going to church regularly, serving others, giving generously, and reading your Bible, you’re good, right? At least on the outside. It is possible that everything could be perfect from an outside perspective, but on the inside you could be completely dead.
Some people make the mistake of focusing on the fruit. Fruit is important. It is evidence of our spiritual growth, encourages and uplifts others, and points people to Jesus. But let’s not put the cart before the horse. Heart comes first, then fruit. Actually, to be more accurate, fruit comes from the heart.
In John 15, Jesus spends a whole chapter telling us to remain in Him so we can produce fruit. This is where I’m going. If you are doing all the right things, but your heart isn’t alive in God (think 1 Corinthians 13), it’s like a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. See, all the right things flow out of a heart that is doing them out of deep and sincere love from God. When you have cultivated a burning heart (pardon my overt International House of Prayer terminology here), you do things like serve others and go to church BECAUSE YOU WANT TO. Do you think your fruit is going to be sweeter and more effective when you’re doing things out of obligation or when you’re doing them out of love?
So how do you know if your heart is alive in God? And what does that even mean? I’ve found for myself that my heart is like a garden. When I cultivate it by seeking God, sitting in His presence, singing love songs, and meditating on His word, I become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit. When this happens, I’m also more aware of the presence of God near me, specifically in my heart. Ephesians 3:17 talks about Christ dwelling in our hearts through faith. That is exactly what this means to me.
How do you know if you’re doing enough? Should I spend an hour a day in prayer? More? This is actually just between you and God. Once you’ve tasted intimacy with God, you’ll know whether or not you’re currently experiencing it. It surpasses anything else you’ve ever experienced. Are you discouraged, irritable, feeling like your failing your family and constantly falling short? You probably just need more time with Jesus.
Pardon me while I go worship Him right now …