“A Christian can’t grow himself; however, he can put himself in an environment for spiritual growth. When that happens, God brings forth fruit.” This simple message resonates throughout Robby Gallaty’s latest book, Bearing Fruit.
As the third book in a three-part series, this book is meant to encourage Christians to pursue deeper spiritual growth; the previous two books, Growing Up and Firmly Planted, focus on making disciples and establishing a firm identity in Christ. In his latest book, Robby shows us how spiritual growth is a product of God working in and through us to produce fruit, evidenced in the following ways–repentance, ministry, sanctification, righteousness, good works, the fruit of the Spirit, and praise.
Christians are meant for growth. We are to be lifelong disciples of Christ, allowing God to continue to do His work in us. As Robby says, “God is still working on you, and the best is yet to come–it will be finished on the day of Christ Jesus. Since God wants to do so much with us, we have to be sure we are allowing him to do his work in us. It is dangerous to settle for mediocrity.” Spiritual growth and the fruit it produces does not happen in a moment or day; it is a process of God rooting out sin and working deeply in us to conform us to the image of Christ.
Spiritual fruit does not grow the way we often think it should. Scripture shows us that suffering plays a central role in our development. Romans 5.3- 4 says “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (ESV). Robby points out that Paul “understands that God’s divine instrument for molding believers into the image of Christ is suffering.” We are reminded of this throughout Scripture; yet until we experience God’s work in us through suffering, it is difficult to understand passages such as James 1.2- 4 “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Robby is clear that he meant for the book to be used as group discussion material (I did read it on my own). He believes the best way for Christians to grow is to remember that we are part of the Body, and as such we are meant to work out our faith in relationships. Each of us is meant to have the following types of relationships with at least one person from each: a Paul, a mature Christian who can pour wisdom into your life; a Barnabas, someone who sharpens you as a person in a similar season of life; and finally, a Timothy, someone you are developing and making an investment in for spiritual growth.
Robby’s desire for his readers is simple. He concludes his book with a plea that we take seriously the need for spiritual growth that bears fruit, and that we pursue it as a response to what God has done in our lives:
“My hope for you is that you will continue to grow in your spiritual journey long after you read this book. I pray your roots are planted firmly like a tree between two streams, and your life bears the fruit of someone who has been bought at a great price–and will continue to bear fruit for many years to come.”