READ: Genesis 1-3, Psalm 1, Matthew 1, Acts 1
Jesus is constantly pruning us. Jesus loves us so much that He constantly, through His Spirit, takes the initiative to remove from us what He hates, that we might blossom in the things that He loves. It is a mistake to think that His discipline of us is seasonal, for He is a constant gardener. Mortification (the weakening of sin in us) is the work of the Holy Spirit. As John Owen said, “He works in us and with us – not against us, or in spite of us, or without us.” New years afford fresh starts, but let us base all our commitments on the understanding that unless Jesus does the work in us our intentions are in vain.
God hovers over our form and deformity. It is His intention to bring light to what is dark in us. God intends to separate out the darkness, to do the fine surgery that divides the aspects of our character and nature that disgust Him from that which brings Him glory. He does this that we might produce fruit, fruit that lasts. This divine division is both beautiful and costly. It cost Him sweat and blood; it will likely cost us similarly. We may not like what Jesus cuts away from us. We may not appreciate what He by His Spirit births in us either – but both should be embraced without fear. The God who is with us conceives and births strange and unprecedented things.
Without Abiding in Jesus (daily extravagant blocks of time in His presence and ongoing communion with Him), we can do nothing. Our responsibility then is to position ourselves where Jesus can flood us with mercy. We start with desperation. There must be a primal cry within us for help, based on the realization that we need certain things pruned out of us and other things grafted in. This desperation helps us be disciplined, and discipline yields desire, desire bears delight. When we delight in Jesus, when He is all that thrills and fuels us, we have the means to represent Him well among all the peoples of the earth. Clothed in Him we have His power and His character – it is a winsome combination.