And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:2 ESV)
For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations. (Isaiah 61:11 ESV)
For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. (Hebrews 6:7 ESV)
I think these verses are related. A seed is planted in good soil, the sun shines, and the rain waters. The result is a growing plant that produces seed that will be planted so that even more plants will grow. God’s intent for me is that I would continue to grow and produce seed or fruit that would bring glory and praise to him. My purpose is to grow and reproduce.
This section in Hebrews deals with two situations that are apparently related. The first is that people have stopped growing. Growth is hard work. I love to learn new things, but I find it very difficult to exercise on a regular basis. This isn’t just true when it comes to physical growth. I struggle to put myself into situations where my faith muscles will be challenged and there will the opportunity to spiritually grow.
My recent surgery disrupted all my routines. It was easy over the past several weeks to be passive and just let life go by. In this passage in Hebrews this looks like a life that is a continual review of the basics. Growth means change and it is much easier to get into a rut and stay there. It takes an extra burst of energy and intentionality to get out of the rut.
We are saved by grace, but growth takes effort. I love this quote from Dallas Willard:
Grace is not opposed to effort. It is opposed to earning.
Gateway Church in Austin, Texas has a motto that also captures this concept.
Come as you are, but don’t stay that way.
This may be the best expression of what Hebrews is saying. God provides the soil, the rain, and the sun. His intention is that I grow and reproduce.
The second situation is that people are growing, but they are growing into the wrong thing. They are producing and reproducing thorns and thistles. There continue to be long arguments regarding what Hebrews means regarding the process of salvation as described here. My greater concern is discipleship. What does all this talk of thorns and thistles mean in terms of my daily walk with God? The clear message to me is that God’s intent is that I produce fruit that reflects his character. If I’m not I need to examine myself to see if the Holy Spirit is present and working in my life.
Where is the Holy Spirit challenging you to move out of your routine and grow? Do others praise God when they interact with you or do they say “Ouch”?