I’ve been thoroughly enjoying having a little bit of time to catch up on my personal reading now that our school year and activities are winding down for the summer. My most recent read was “The Fruitful Life: The Overflow of God’s Love Through You” by Jerry Bridges. Navpress generously provided me a review copy. My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Jerry Bridges has written an accessible, thoroughly Biblical guide to the fruits of the Spirit, based on Galatians 5:22-23. Full of practical application and Scripturally saturated, “The Fruitful Life” is a must-read. As Bridges states in the Introduction, a healthy life is a fruitful life. This book, the content of which is mostly derived from his earlier book “The Practice of Godliness”, is a wonderful tool to that end.
I loved the emphasis throughout that producing spiritual fruit is not something that we can do ourselves, it’s something we must allow the Spirit to do through us. We can’t manufacture or self-generate these characteristics, nor can we take pride in them. Yet we still have a responsibility. Bridges uses the term “garments of grace” to describe that, although God is the source, we must actively “put on” these character traits like garments. What a beautiful word picture! The fruit of the Spirit is also relational, having an outward focus toward other people, not just an inward, personal spiritual focus. It flows to us from our union with Christ and beyond us to bring us into fellowship with others.
The first chapter begins by examining how each of the traits listed in Galatians is cultivated through devotion to Christ and conformity to His character. The second chapter is one of the best, discussing our devotion to God in terms of a triangle with the two points at the base representing the fear of God and love for God while the apex represents the desire for God. These are the three essential elements of devotion. Bridges’ explanation of the biblical concept of the fear of God is superb. The third chapter is another favorite of mine. It addresses humility. Although not one of the nine fruits, humility is essential. It opens the way for all the other godly character traits…it is the soil in which they grow.
The fourth through eleventh chapters each examine one of the nine fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5: 22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The final chapter, titled “Seeking a Deeper Devotion”, revisits devotion to God as the only acceptable motive for actions that are pleasing to God, and what we can do to develop and grow this fruit even further in our lives. Praying for growth, meditating on God’s word, worshiping God, and fellowship with God through “quiet time” are essential. The three essential elements of devotion discussed in the second chapter are revisited. We must strive to grow equally in these three areas, or we risk becoming unbalanced in our devotion to God, emphasizing fear of God or love of God to the extreme. Balance is crucial, along with vital dependence on the Holy Spirit. Bridges closes by explaining that there is another area of life that is key. It’s not an activity, but an attitude of life: obedience to the will of God. He calls this “the ultimate test”, the only true response to His love for us. Do we earnestly desire to obey His commands?
Each chapter ends with questions for discussion and personal application, as well as Scriptures for meditation. This book is ideal for a group study or to use in personal devotions. Jerry Bridges has a true gift for expressing Biblical truth in an accessible, applicable way. I’ll be revisiting this book in my personal devotions and taking more time to meditate on the Scriptures he provides throughout.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Book Review: The Fruitful Life by Jerry Bridges (Mom’s Bookshelf)
June 7, 2010 By 1 Comment