**Special thanks to Stephanie Chalfant at NavPress for providing me with a copy of The Fruitful Life for review purposes.**
My rating: 5/5
After seeing rave reviews of Jerry Bridges books on Tim Challies site, I was anxious to get my hands on a copy of one of his books. I don't always agree with Challies viewpoints but his reviews always get me thinking.
I was not disappointed with Bridges' Scripture-laden study on the fruit of the Spirit. Devotion to God is the only reason we can and should seek to bear fruit. I agree with Bridges statement that all too often our motives are self-centered: worrying about what others might think of us, or feeling good about ourselves personally. We can even be acting on ethics or morals, yet not truly out of sole devotion to God.
One lesson that God has been teaching me personally over and over again lately is humility. Bridges starts his book off with the virtue of humility, stating that bearing fruit starts with an attitude of humility. The more I think about his hypothesis the more I agree that humility is the central virtue necessary for bearing fruit. In order to act in love, we must put others before ourselves. In order to live a self-controlled life, we must realize we have no power to do so in and of ourselves.
Bridges also shows the never-ending cycle between conduct and character. Which direction are we training ourselves by our actions? Are we training ourselves to wait patiently for God's timing? Are we cultivating thankfulness that will create a joyful character?
Devotion to God, according to Bridges is based on fear of God, love of God, and desire of God. I definitely agree with Bridges' assertion that all three need to be in balance. He states that the church today is strongly lacking in the area of fear of God.
Bridges' proceeds to devote a chapter to each of the fruit of the Spirit. My favorite part of The Fruitful Life is the fact that Bridges provides meditation verses for each fruit of the Spirit. I have found in my own life, meditating on Scriptures is a great way not only to fight sin but also to build the corresponding virtue. I want to return to Bridges' list of Scriptures for each of the fruit.
Bridges also directs the reader to prayer giving ideas for Scripture the reader can pray in building fruit in their lives. He provides applicational questions about each fruit, centering the reader on honestly evaluating him or herself in regards to struggles. For instance:
"Review the last couple of days, looking for situations in which you were tempted to act in a self-centered way instead of putting others before yourself. What did you do in each case? What do you observe about yourself." (60). Ouch, Bridges asks some tough questions of the reader.
The Fruitful Life is a book I will find myself "chewing" on for weeks to come. I plan to spend more time meditating on the Scriptures and questions Bridges shares.
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."