It’s summertime, and time for fruit. People are squeezing mangoes and thumping watermelons to test their edibleness.
The Bible has advice on how to get the best fruit:
“Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds” (Isaiah 3:10, ESV).
In this verse we are tipped off as to whom God considers “the righteous.” “The righteous” are those who have “deeds.” The biblical concept of righteousness is not one of a wallet-sized Christian membership card that inoculates us against liability for sloppy living. Notice how the two halves of the verse set up a parallel, in which the second half leaves us no doubt as to what God means by “the righteous.” “The righteous” are people who do “deeds” that are righteous. The promise in the verse is that doers of those deeds will eat and enjoy pleasant fruit.
What are those deeds? A good shorthand answer is that they are works prompted by faith and by love (1 Thessalonians 1:3).
“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Galatians 5:14, ESV).
True confession: Every day I start out with a to-do list. It is filled with things I want to do—for God! Heaven help the person who gets in my way as I go out to do things for God! Why, I would be practically perfect if people just left me alone!
My husband tells me that trusting God with a frustrated to-do list probably takes more faith than getting my list done while steamrolling people. I think he may be right. For like the author of Hebrews wrote, “without faith it is impossible to please him,” and I can vouch that it takes more faith to give up my agenda and entrust the outcome to God.
What about you? You may have a to-do list, too. You may find some of the plans on your daily agenda derailed by things or people, too. Is that frustrating? Could that perennial problem be one of the “trials” James had in mind that you are supposed to “count all joy”? Do you think that maybe the righteous life is a more existential way of living than we supposed—the moment-by-moment yieldedness to the promptings of the Spirit to jettison cherished portions of our plans and to trust Him with the outcome? It is hard because no one sees the sacrifice and the self-crucifixion but God. Then again, no one has to see but God.
“Tell the righteous that … they shall eat the fruit of their deeds.”