A Life Of Constant Growth
By Ruth Paxson (1889 – 1949)
“But we all, with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
There is nothing static in true spiritual experience. The upward look and the unveiled face must catch and reflect something of the glory of the Lord. With a growing knowledge of Him and a deepening communion with Him there must be a growing likeness to Him.
On one occasion I was traveling upon the Yangtze River in Central China. A heavy rain storm had just cleared away and the sun had come out brightly from behind the banked-up clouds. I felt an inward impelling to go out upon the deck and the Lord had a precious message awaiting me. The water of the Yangtze River is very muddy. But as I stepped to the railing and looked over, I did not see the dirty, yellow water that day but, instead, the heavenly blue and fleecy white of the heavens above and all so perfectly reflected that I actually could not believe that I was looking down instead of up. Instantly the Holy Spirit flashed Second Corinthians 3:18 into my mind and said, “In yourself you are as unattractive as the water of the Yangtze River, but when your whole being is turned Godward and your life lies open to Him so that His glory shines upon it and into it, then you will be so transformed into His image that others looking at you will see not you but Christ in you.” Oh, friends, are you and I “reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord”?
But there is to be a progression in our likeness to Christ – it is to be from glory to glory. The spiritual nature is ever reaching out after and laying hold of that which is spiritual in order that it may become more spiritual.
“Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit…. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:2, 5).
“Not fruit,” “fruit,” “more fruit,” “much fruit.” Do these phrases not unveil before us the potentialities for Christlikeness open to every branch in the Vine? Do they not also show us the positive progression “from glory to glory” God expects to see in us? These expressions are descriptive. Which one describes you? Only the “much fruit” glorifies the Father. “Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples” (John 15:8).
Fruit of the Spirit
But what is the fruit God expects to find on the branch? He tells us. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control: against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).
The “fruit of the Spirit” is the full-orbed symmetrical character of the Lord Jesus Christ in which there is no lack and no excess. Note it is not “fruits” as so often misquoted. It is just one cluster, and all nine graces are essential to reveal the beauty of true Christlikeness. But how often we see a great heart of love spoiled by quickness of temper – there is “love” but not “self-control.” Or we see a person of great long-suffering but he is also very long-faced. There is “long-suffering” but no “joy.” Again one sees a Christian very long on “faith” but very short on “gentleness.” He has more of the thunder of Sinai than the love of Calvary in his make-up. He defends the doctrine with better success than he adorns it. Sometimes we see one whose life is the embodiment of goodness but the goodness is overshadowed by worry and fretfulness. There is “goodness” but not “peace.” Oh! how the lack of the excess of any one of these graces mars the symmetry of the cluster. In the spiritual Christian all nine graces blend in such winsome attractiveness that the world sees Christ living within.
– Taken from Rivers of Living Water by Ruth Paxson, who was a Bible teacher, missionary and author.