Don’t get the cart before the horse…

Or, to mix a metaphor, don’t try to make juice without oranges.

As the saying goes, it’s important to get things in the right order or they just won’t work. The same applies with the Christian life: Faith comes before fruit.

We know this intuitively in other contexts. If I buy a juicer (to make orange juice), sit it on the shelf, plug it in, turn it on, put my cup under the outlet and expect orange juice to come out, I’m going to be disappointed. Unless, I first put some oranges in. The analogy only goes so far, but the general idea is you need oranges to make orange juice. No oranges, no orange juice.

There is a temptation to also approach Christianity the wrong way around. We strive to live to certain standards or morals to gain (or retain) God’s acceptance and approval. If I keep the golden rule… If I love my neighbour… If I show charity… etc then God will accept, love, bless me. To pursue those things without having first received life from God is a little bit like buying an expensive juicer without any oranges and expecting juice!

In 2nd Peter, we are told that we are given EVERYTHING we need for life and godliness through knowing Jesus. Once we have received God’s gift of life we can nourish and supplement that as we grow in the likeness of Jesus. If someone gave you an orange tree seedling, you have EVERYTHING you need to make orange juice. You just need to faithfully, diligently nurture it. Having orange juice will be a byproduct of having a healthy orange tree. It doesn’t make the tree a better tree – it can’t become MORE of an orange tree.

The virtues of Jesus Christ are a byproduct, a fruit, of knowing him, experiencing his power and resting in his promises. Pursuing these qualities doesn’t make you MORE of a Christian or more loved or more accepted. We “make every effort” to add these things because we already are loved and accepted because we, “through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious” as the original Christians, like the Apostle Peter. Have you received new life in Christ or are you just a fancy juicing machine without any oranges?

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One thought on “Don’t get the cart before the horse…

  1. What a great truth you bring up here. The fruit of the christian life is a byproduct of being connected to the Vine, which is Jesus Christ. We cannot expect to bear any fruit without the power of God in our life. So many people want the fruits of the spirit, or they want freedom from their sin, so they focus on those things. However we can never achieve any of those things if they alone are our focus. When we seek God, allow his spirit to work in us, then the fruits of the spirit and freedom from sin will come naturally. That is why we must seek the kingdom of God first. Thank you for your post.

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