On a recent visit to Sam’s I picked up a bag of clementines, a box of kiwi, and a container of grapes. I’ve been trying to eliminate processed food and eat more natural food (as my friend Michelle says, “the way God made it”).
Each night I’ve been preparing a bowl of fruit for us to enjoy as “dessert” after dinner. The fruit has been so fresh and flavorful that it makes me wonder why I ever thought the junk was all that good.
But then we ran out. I didn’t want to go out of town again so soon, so I picked up the same fruit locally–clementines, kiwi, and grapes. I washed the grapes and cut up the fruit, preparing our fruit bowls to enjoy.
But the fruit wasn’t good. The grapes were too soft, the kiwi rather bland, and the clementines sort of dry. We expected the same fresh and flavorful fruit, but we were disappointed.
What Does It Really Mean to Bear Good Fruit?
You know, Jesus said that we would be known by our fruit (Matthew 7:15-20). Paul describes the fruit of a Spirit-filled life–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Being known by our fruit means that the world is watching. They have a sort of expectation that, as believers, we ought to be producing something good. But what they sometimes see in us is disappointing at best.
The thing is, though, that we can’t produce good fruit ourselves. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t be more loving or joyful or peaceful. I can’t manufacture patience, kindness, or goodness. On my own, I am not faithful, gentle, or self-controlled.
But God calls me to be fruitful. And the world needs me to be.
Fruit Is a Product of Growth
Fruit is a natural product of growth. When the seed is planted in the right conditions and the root grows down deep and a little shoot begins to sprout, then eventually the fruit comes forth.
When we plant ourselves in God’s presence and get deeply rooted in His love for us, we just naturally begin to grow. As we grow and bear a little fruit, He makes us stronger by nourishing our relationship so we can become more fruitful.
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.”Philippians 1:9-11, NIV
The fruitful life is one that seeks an intimate, growing relationship with God. We do that through prayer and His Word, but we don’t produce the fruit–He does. The fruit comes through Christ, through His Spirit living within us, as we walk in submission to Him.
Jesus is righteous. His Spirit is loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, and faithful. When our love abounds in the knowledge of who He is, we are better able to discern what pleases Him and walk with Him, letting His life live through us.
“And we pray this in order that you may life a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way; bearing fruit in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”Colossians 1:10-12
As we seek to know Him better, we learn His ways. As we allow His hand to cut back and prune away those things that stunt our growth, we grow just a little more like Him.
And the more we grow, the more that good fruit comes forth. It’s not in the striving, it’s in the abiding.
It’s in the Abiding
That’s what our world needs to see–more of the life of Christ being lived out in you and me. Jesus said the world would know we are His disciples by the love we have for one another (John 13:35).
Sometimes the world only knows us by the things we stand against. Yes, we must stand for truth, especially in a world of ever-changing values and disregard for truth. But we must do it in a way that is still reflecting the character of our Lord.
Our world is full of people who are broken, lonely, hurting, helpless and harassed, like sheep without a Shepherd (Matthew 9:36). They need to know that the One we serve is able to save and deliver and help.
God is able to grow His kingdom, but He chooses to do it through you and me. Just as seeds get dispersed from the fruit, as we walk in the Spirit and bear His fruit in our lives, more seeds get planted and the kingdom of God grows (Colossians 1:6).
Father, may we seek to know You, to grow in You, and to show You to a hurting world that could use a little good news right now. May Your fruit be abundant in our lives as a fresh and flavorful testimony of who You are.