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Review: A Vine-Ripened Life by Stanley D. Gale

a vine ripened life

We live because of Christ, and we bear fruit by abiding in him. Those are fundamental facts of life for Christians.

But what does ‘bearing fruit’ mean in practical, everyday life? And how, exactly, is that related to abiding in Christ? A Vine-Ripened Life discusses this by exploring Galatians 5:22, 23:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

Although we must work to develop these fruits, pastor Stanley Gale says there’s a profound difference between artificial fruit, produced by our own efforts with the character qualities themselves as a goal, and real fruit that flows from a relationship with Jesus Christ and has him as its goal.  That is because real fruit comes from the Spirit, not self-effort, and we can produce it only when we abide in Christ.

In this book, Gale shares the experience of years of living and studying about the fruit of the Spirit and relates them to abiding in Christ. Here is a sampling:

Love, the defining characteristic of Christians, is an action, not merely an emotion.

Our joy is rooted in God’s goodness, not our circumstances, and the battleground for joy is the mind where faith and prayer happen.

The peace that passes all understanding comes from returning to God, the source of that peace.  This fruit, too, has the mind as its battleground as we train ourselves to think about the excellent things that draw us more deeply into the arms of our Father God.

Patience is driven by love that denies self and puts others first; it is basic to each of the other qualities mentioned in Galatians 5.

Kindness is sensing and meeting the needs of others in a practical way.

Real goodness comes from obediently following Jesus Christ, and “our imaginary goodness is harder to conquer than our actual sin.”

Faithfulness means that we should be people of our word because we are people of the Word.  We should be faithful to who we are in Christ.

The fruit of gentleness can draw others out. By creating an open, welcoming environment, it invites vulnerability in others and allows them to be real.

Self-control is retraining for a life that has been freed from the bondage of sin and is new in Christ.  It is as much about learning to live in Christ’s freedom as it is learning to restrain our sinful impulses.

Although humility is not mentioned in Galatians 5, Gale includes it because it is basic to abiding in Christ and bearing fruit.

In conclusion, Gale points out that “We need to learn to abide—to rest in, remain, and regard our Lord in all things, at all times. We want to sit at His feet to learn both what He says and the heart by which He says it. ”

Each chapter  of this helpful book ends with review questions which can be answered by looking back at the chapter.  They are not, in the first place, personal application questions, but the whole book is so personal that review questions can easily be applied to life.

In The Vine-Ripened Life a wise and godly man shared his heart with us through the Bible.  Many sentences spoke to me with great clarity, wisdom, and helpfulness, and I’m sure different parts of the book would speak to you.

However, even though the contents of this book are excellent, the writing is not. A Vine-Ripened Life would have been much more compelling and understandable if it had been vigorously edited.  I hope a revised edition will be published, because the book is worth it.

From a homeschooling point of view, this book would not make a good curriculum, but it could be a good Bible study guide for teens and adults.

This is yet another book in the in the 2014 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and is also linked to Saturday Reviews,  and Booknificent Thursdays.

Disclosure: A download of this book was provided by Cross-Focused Reviews for the purpose of this review.

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