If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. (Phil. 1:22)

GROWING MY OWN nectarines is vastly satisfying . . . as is growing raspberries, garlic, onions, tomatoes, spinach, and squash. The fruits of my labors are tasty indeed. How amazingly wonderful to stick a tiny twig or seed in the ground and reap such delicious results for so little labor.

If only that success were guaranteed in the spiritual realm. Paul spoke of sowing and reaping fruits for the gospel. And Paul suffered greatly in his efforts to promote the cause of Christ. No wonder he wrote in this passage of his desire to leave behind the struggles of this life and be with Christ. And yet he persevered, resolute in his choice that living is the same as laboring for the gospel.

We who follow Paul so many centuries later groan when we consider the labor required to follow Christ wholeheartedly. But God promises we need only remain faithful in our labors; God will provide the harvest. Just as I rely on God to produce nectarines on my tree, we trust that God will bring to himself those whose hearts He has already been wooing.

Seek to produce fruit that will remain.

Kathy Bence lives in Idaho with her professor husband, Phil.