Abiding is exercised through study of God’s Word and prayer. God’s Word, the Bible, instructs us in the way of God. It shapes our worldview. It nourishes our soul. It directs our steps.
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
(John 15:5, NKJV)
The front of my home is a riot of color, thanks to the work of my wife in selecting and caring for the array of flowers that comprise the palette. As the plants grow over the summer the garden becomes more lush and conspicuous to the passersby.
That patch of flowers gives us an idea of what God wants of our lives as His children. In contrast to pride, covetousness, sexual immorality, envy, rage, discontentment, and selfishness, we are to display love, joy, peace, patience, humility, righteousness, and mercy. In a fallen and wayward world, these characteristics of grace stand out. They attract the attention of others who will know we are Christians by our love and will enjoy our kindness, goodness, and gentleness. As Christ is formed in us we will bring beauty to what can be a dark and inhospitable world. The conduct of our lives will bring glory to our Father in heaven.
But how do we go about cultivating these blooms of blessing? Their seeds are resident in us by virtue of our new life in Christ. How do we develop them, especially if they are to grow organically from union with Christ rather than by sheer effort of the will and brute determination to try harder to be more loving, more patient, and the like?
Ultimately, the answer to growth is grace. It is of God. The Spirit who begins a work in us will continue that work the entirety of our lives, until we are made perfect in heavenly glory. The grace that brings salvation is the grace the produces sanctification. Grace is the instructor “teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12).