Fruitful Growth

Growth in grace is a very remarkable work—the work of the Father. “He that hath wrought us for this very thing is God” (2 Co 5:5). We are to “desire the sincere milk of the Word that we may grow thereby.” It is not merely seeing the meaning of the Word, or its exposing us to ourselves, as a man looking into a mirror, but “being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (Jam 1:25).

The growth of the believer is like the growth of a tree. First only the stem, then branches; but the growth once acquired, ever remains. The growth acquired only prepares for a still greater growth. There is never a sense of having grown. “If anyone thinks he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know it” (1 Co 8:2). “We see through a glass darkly.” Where there is growth, there is always the sense of longing to grow. Hence the larger a tree, the greater its growth.

It may not appear to the casual observer to grow so much as a young tree, but if you were to count all the growth on a large tree, you would find that combined they far surpass the great visible growth of young trees. I believe the soul that is most growing is never occupied with his growth, but with the Source of his life. Paul, after thirty years of growth can say, “For whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and to count them but refuse, that I may win Christ” (Phil 3:8). A believer elated with his knowledge is like a shallow-minded man, vain of his learning. There is no end to the believer’s growth because it is “growing up unto Him in all things” (Eph 4:15).

They say fruit trees have three sets of roots. The tap-root which it lives by; the wood-roots, which should be pruned; and lastly the fruit-roots, which are to nourished and fed. The value of the tree is the fruit it produces. It is not mere existence—the tap root; nor is it mere wood, which may be too luxuriant; but the great thing is to feed and nourish the fruit-roots. It is said that if they are well fed and ministered to, the tree will withstand frost, and the blight which so often blasts the finest array of blossoms.

Thus the real value of growth is not the wood that every one may see, but the fruit which minsters to others, often in a much unseen way, but pleasing to the Lord. The owner of special fruit shares it with his friends. It comes to them as a mark of his affection and friendship; and I have no doubt that when there are fruits of the Spirit in and from any of us, we relish them and own them as surely being the Lord’s gift.

I do not mean temporal gifts, which often may be only as the wood in the tree; but I mean the love which imparts a moral influence to the life, and ministers in some degree to us the frankincense of Christ. It is thus that fruit, the result of matured growth, is so esteemed by the spiritual mind.

Fruit is a divine virtue that has matured to an expression. Growth is of little value unless it attains to fruit. Hence fruit is the glory of growth, and not the wood, which is the measure of my advancement in knowledge. One little strawberry in the roadside hedge ministers more to the weary traveler, the pilgrim, than all the kings of the forest put together. They may boast of greatness and size, but the strawberry, unseen as to appearance, has far surpassed them all in service.

- J B Stoney

Miles J Stanford devotional: