God longs for us to have a sabbatical heart. But we are often more concerned with having a fruitful heart. Being fruitful. So to get a vision of the sabbatical heart, let’s start there and see
What fruit is NOT
Fruit is not success
Fruit is not busyness
Fruit is not financial or material wealth
Fruit is not popularity
I believe fruit is the result of a fallow heart!
Fallow ground appears to be unproductive and lifeless, but while it is resting it is receiving nutrients and being built up in preparation for new seed which will bring fruit. But before that can happen it must be fallow (resting) for a time.
Hos. 10:12 Sow with a view to righteousness,
Reap in accordance with kindness;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the Lord
Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.
This verse was written after the sabbatical year (the 7th year in which they were instructed to let the ground go fallow (unplowed and unplanted)
John Wesley explains the fallow year’s purposes:
- Public – To show what a plentiful land that was, into which God was bringing them, that so numerous a people could have rich maintenance out of the products of so small a country, without foreign trade, and yet could spare the increase of every seventh year.
- Personal – To teach them a confidence in the Divine Providence, while they did their duty, that as the sixth day’s manna served for two days meat, so the sixth year’s increase should serve for two years subsistence. (That is also what the Sabbath – the weekly day of rest was created for us to experience)
If you look at the fallow ground you see hard ground, unplowed. It looks very inactive, unproductive and dry. It looks to be without life. (Haven’t we all had periods of life like that)
Do you see any fruit? No, obviously not, but there is something important and unseen that has occurred as a result of allowing the land to rest for a time.
The land, while resting, is being rained on and built up with nutrients to develop, nourish and support the new seed.
Without the time of rest and building up, the fruit would be inferior, weak, and more sparse every subsequent crop.
Similarly, we need to be sure not to work the soil of our creativity, the soil of our bodies (God’s temple) or the soil of our spirit-soul without periods of rest.
We need to periodically stop, listen and take in nourishment that builds us up in preparation for the new seed. The new crop of fruit/maturity in us.
When I went on missions trip much time was occupied with planning, preparing and sometimes rehearsing the works we would do. We prayed for fruit (evidence of our prayers and efforts). The church expected us to come back and share what God had done through us.
When I’ve gone to conferences I’ve found that my work and my heart flourish more if I take a day or a particular time allotment and use it to “Sow with a view to righteousness” – where I rest and instead give, water, plant. During that time of rest from marketing my own work, I seek instead to encourage others, asking how can I help you, or how can I pray for you.
Whether on a mission, at a conference, or in everyday life, God has shown the need for a sabbatical heart. He has left me in awe to realize he is more concerned with the nourishing and maturing He does in me than what ‘ministry’ can be done through me. Sometimes that means a period apart – a quiet time – a rest from striving.
The more I can rest in Him, be in the Word, receive the spiritual nutrients, the more he can build up his fruit in my heart and life. The more I accept those periods of rest, I see now, the more God is enabling me to be strengthened and instructed to “Plentifully pour out the fruits of his goodness and mercy.” That comes from a sabbatical heart.
As Hosea said, God wants to rain (water, teach, instruct) righteousness on me and on you –
God wants to develop your sabbatical heart! Are you resting in Him?