When Your Life Seems Unfruitful

Originally published Tuesday, 11 November 2014.

It's a busy season for our family. Between travels, homeschool, sports, Scouts, and other activities, our days are full and go by quickly. One consequence to our packed schedule is that I've found myself scattered, unfocused, and forgetful. I've been late for appointments or missed them all together. I can't count the number of times I've walked into a room and forgot why I did. In truth, I'm a frazzled mess.

In an effort to be more organized and prepared, I've been making crock pot meals so they are ready for us when we return from practices and meetings. One morning, I gathered my ingredients to make a stew and discovered I was missing one key ingredient. I looked everywhere, even crawled around in the trunk of the car looking for it because I remembered buying the ingredient. It was nowhere to be found. So I had to drag the kids out to the store for that one ingredient, delaying homeschool that morning. They were happy, I wasn't.

Then, just the other day, I opened the freezer to pull out chicken for another meal and what did I find in there but the missing ingredient I had searched all over for! How on earth did a can of tomatoes end up in the freezer? Sigh. My forgetfulness has made me unfruitful.

This fruitlessness born out of forgetfulness occurs in our spiritual life as well. From the Apostle Peter:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins (2 Peter 1:3-9).

This passage tells us that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of this, Peter urges us to pursue virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love. He then points out that those who are not fruitful, who lack such qualities, are blind, having forgotten the gospel and what Christ has done.

When we find ourselves in a state of spiritual fruitlessness, lacking the qualities Peter described, it's because we have forgotten the gospel. We've forgotten what Christ has done for us through his life, death, and resurrection. We've forgotten that we've been redeemed, restored, and made alive in Christ. As a result, we've returned to the former way of living, as though everything depends on us. We strive to do life in our own strength, not relying on God's grace in all things. We live in the flesh instead of in the Spirit. We've forgotten who we are as new creations and whose we are as children of God.

The reality is, the gospel is not something we ever outgrow. We never move past our need for Christ's atoning work on the cross. We never get beyond our need for his perfect life lived in our place. The gospel isn't only for sinners to embrace at their moment of salvation. Rather, it is a lifelong treasure that we revel in our entire lives. The gospel of grace is what changes and transforms us. Peter wrote that forgetting the gospel makes us unfruitful; the reverse is true as well--remembering the gospel makes us fruitful.

The older I get, the more post-it notes I place around the house reminding me of things I used to have no trouble remembering. I need constant reminders of the gospel as well. I need to be in the word, refreshing my soul with gospel truth about who I am because of what Christ has done. I need to memorize God's word for ready recall when I need it most. I need to pray that God would grant me a thirst for gospel truth and a heart that rests in what Christ has done. I need to fellowship with other believers who remind me of the gospel and who always point me to Christ. I need to read and study the works of godly pastors and teachers who are gospel centered. And I need to develop a daily habit of remembering what God has done to bring me from death to life.

Are you forgetful as well? Have you found yourself lacking the qualities Peter described? Join me in remembering the gospel. Let's follow Peter's example and "stir {each other} up by way of reminder" (2 Peter 1:13). Because we never outgrow our need for the gospel of grace.