Being Softer and Sweeter: Signs of Spiritual Maturity

I have reached the halfway point of Wayne Jacobsen’s excellent book, In Season: Embracing the Father’s Process of Fruitfulness, and I’m learning so much about how God matures us through the use of the metaphor of Jesus being the vine and us being the branches. The first quarter of the book was on the season of Spring, which is when we have a fresh, new experience of God. That’s what I think about as the mountaintop experiences – when following God is so easy because I’m on such a “God high.” Per Jacobsen, summer is the season of maturing, which happens through persisting (enduring) through the elements, which in the Christian walk is our circumstances. Only those who stay connected to the Vine reach the end of summer with fruit to be harvested in the Fall.

Since I read the last chapter about Summer, entitled Softer and Sweeter, I have been meditating on Jacobsen’s definition of a mature Christian. Below are excepts from this chapter. I’ll provide my reaction to his words beginning tomorrow.

By early August the grapes have grown almost to full size. But if you pick one and bite into it then, you’ll be greatly disappointed. The grapes are still hard, and tart enough to pucker your lips…When the grapes turn soft and sweet, the harvest is at hand…Softer and sweeter. The same things that signal the maturity of a grape also signal the maturity of a believer. As God brings his promises to completion in our lives, one of the signs that he is about finished is the softness and sweetness that floods our demeanor… By learning to trust God’s doing more than our own we become softened with humility and gentleness and sweetened with lovingkindness. All of the fruits of the spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—are expressions of a life that has been through the fire and come through with greater trust in the Father’s affection and his work in the world…

Softness is not weakness; in God’s kingdom it is the greatest measure of strength…

The end product of summer, for those who traverse it with perseverance and growing trust, is a gentle and humble spirit. There is no more accurate sign of maturity than those who treat others, all others, with kindness and gentleness.”

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of In Season: Embracing the Father’s Process of Fruitfulness. Courtesy Amazon.]

 

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