If a branch is going to bear fruit, there comes a time in the believer’s life when growth is not an option. It is a necessity. To advance upon the stairs toward the heart of the Beloved means that Eros love must be left behind and a higher expression of love embraced.
It is a thin thread between our making this choice and Holy Spirit wooing us to this place. We are such cognitive people with a default of trying to figure it out in our own reasoning. I could wax eloquent here, but for time’s sake, the best exhortation I can give you is to read Hebrews 11 – the faith chapter.
Faith is believing. Believing is faith. Being fully persuaded that what God has said is Truth and true. Convinced to the point of constancy in one’s profession of reliance upon and relationship with Him.
I find it compelling that this middle stage of becoming a fruit-bearer is the longest stretch of the producing of love’s crop. Planting the seed does not take long. The bearing of fruit comes in God’s timeliness and degrees of fruit, more fruit, and much fruit – as we yield and as He ordains.
But in between…that place we love to hate. Growing takes time. Much of it is underground, hidden away. If we were to constantly dig up the seed to see how it’s growing, we would damage or outright kill it. Instead, we hear and read and try our best to follow what scripture tells us, yet it seems we often have little to show for our endeavor and our obedience.
This is precisely where and when the opportunities abound for making a thousand little choices, convicted and compelled by Holy Spirit, that will ultimately render the fruit of Divine love by which the Bride is to be marked and known.
However, before the vines are laden with fruit, there is the faith-growing season of Phileo love.
Confession #2 – Phileo
“ I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine, …”
Song of Songs 6:3 NASB
It was time for our Shulamite to meet the Person behind the blessings.
Her second confession of love, the Greek word Phileo, is portrayed in scripture as the highest expression of human love. It is a love that is both responsive and reciprocated. A mutual love that flows two ways.
I John 4:19 says it well: “We love because He first loved us.”
A far cry from Eros love’s one-way flow toward her, which was nothing more than a lifestyle of getting.
In her second testimony some progress was evident as she was now able to put Shepherd Lover first: “I am my Beloved’s…” She could honestly say she belonged to Him instead of simply ‘owning’ Him as a blessing and ‘get me out of the messes I’ve made’ machine.
The Shulamite had undergone a growth spurt whereby she no longer viewed Him (and we no longer view the Lord) as simply a distant God in heaven to whom we pray, hoping our prayers will cause Him to fulfill our wishes. She began to fellowship with Him, coming to know Him as a Person with whom she could relate and give herself to. She came to enjoy His presence, not just His presents.
His tender correction and chastening in love was also having an effect upon her heart. Where she remained pliable and trusting, faith in His love was fanning desire within her to bring others into the same experience she had received from Him. Her relationship to Shepherd Lover (and ours to the Lord) was now centered on giving.
But dear reader, as it was for the Shulamite so it is for us. Progress had been made. Her steps of following Shepherd Lover had moved her upward on the ascending stairs. However, the postscript of her second confession revealed a still-present element of self-centeredness that continued to rule her disposition and her priorities. “…and my Beloved is mine.”
I am so glad our Shepherd Lover Lord does not give up on us. The changes He brought about in the Shulamite are the same changes He effects in us. The enablement to begin loving Him as a Person rather than for all the things He can and does provide, comes from Him. He must fuel even our human love.
Still, there is more. More beyond the blessings and gifts that remain available to us, for He doesn’t renege on His Word.
That hopeful promise of more was implanted in my heart many years ago when I came across a Holy Spirit-inspired challenge in one of my beloved old devotionals…
“Don’t look for the gifts. Look for the Giver. And He will bring the gifts with Him.”
The wonder is that contained within Him is everything we could ever ask, think, or hope for. Falling in love with Shepherd Lover in the Person of Jesus Christ was and is never about the gifts. He is The Gift.
I believe the lesson embedded within Phileo love is this: in the long growing stretch, at any and every point in the process, we must be honest and admit that apart from the Vine, we really can do nothing. But intertwined with Him, His very Life-flow in and through us will end up bearing much fruit. (John 15:5)
Growing in the long stretch,
Shammahs Field LLC/Shammah Ministries is the biblical counseling, life coaching, and spiritual growth ministry entrusted to Wayne & Nancy Bentz. You can learn more about the resources they have to offer at www.shammahsfield.com.
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