Not too long ago I was picking black-eyed peas and discovered that some of what I was picking was not black-eyed peas at all. They were creamer peas. When ordering seed, we asked for black-eyes, but something must have gotten mixed up. Even the best seed suppliers can’t guarantee 100% purity. And it’s like this in life, too. Sometimes you think you are planting one thing, but as time passes, and you reap what you have sown, you find it’s not at all what you thought it would be. Other times, when you are authentic and true, you reap exactly what you planted, and it’s good.

In Matthew 7:16-18 Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” Today, I don’t want to write about bad seed. We have all made mistakes in life and have lived with the consequences. I want to write about good seed. No matter what has happened in the past, you always have today to live for purpose. These verses cause me to ask what am I doing that bears good fruit?

Growing up in a religious home I was very cognizant of doing good deeds. In fact, I hoped I could earn my salvation by being good. When I learned that salvation was a gift of God, I was relieved and profoundly grateful. Yet, knowing this truth left me confused about works. How do they fit in? James 2:17 says, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” So, faith is important because it is the reason for good works. Works are important because they demonstrate our faith.

This question of faith and works brought be back to the peas. Only blackeyes are blackeyes. In the same way, people are what they consistently do. In John 4:34 Jesus said, “My meat is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work.” What would it take for me, like Jesus, to do the will of the Father? Here’s a few thoughts: First and foremost, if love is a verb, then it involves movement. This could be volunteering at church, visiting someone in a nursing home, lending a hand to a new mom, or just praying with a friend. No matter how awkward it feels, the first step is to reach out. You will never know what you will find until you do. In fact, the joy is in the going. I found this to be true with delivering vegetables. It started with sharing some extra produce God had provided us.  It has ended in getting to know some remarkable friends and having the privilege of sharing in their lives. This experience has been profoundly meaningful and energizing.

The second step is to be consistent. What you consistently do is who you are. When Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself, He didn’t mean once. Rotate it. Buy a coffee for someone one day, give a sincere complement to someone else another day, call a friend. . . Make caring for others a lifestyle. Wake up in the morning and ask God who you can bless that day. I met an elderly missionary once who told me this story. When she was a child, she wanted to do something for missions. She would gather things she knew missionaries needed, make boxes, and mail them. In time, she discovered a deep longing in herself not to just pack boxes, but to go.  It was not an obligation but a passion and a life calling, but God’s calling on her life was developed through consistency.

The third step is to rely on God. In John 15:15 Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing.” Nothing we can do in and of ourselves can make a difference, no kindness, no gesture of friendship, no sacrifice for our fellow man. . . but what we do in Christ makes a difference. He partners with us when we obey Him, and this experience, this relationship, if we embrace it, changes us. Luke 6:38 says, “Give and it shall be given unto you.” When you give, you receive. It’s not why we give, it’s just what the Bible has promised will happen. And it certainly beats being depressed or turning inward, which is what happens if I focus only on me.

And so today, I encourage you to never lose the gratitude of your salvation, but to know that along with it comes the responsibility of being like Christ. That’s what our covenant with Him means. That’s our purpose. Living as He did. Doing what He has commanded. Loving others as ourselves. Back when I was picking those peas, they all looked alike, but only some were true and authentic black-eyed peas. For me, being authentic means doing the right thing when no one is looking…reaching out. . . being consistent. . . relying on His grace. . . and giving Him the glory. Then, on the day of harvest, we will not be ashamed, but we will hear Him call us faithful. Matthew 25:23 tells us the words we hope to hear from Jesus, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness!”

— Written by Jill

The picture shows contents of a recent ministry bag.