Thursday, February 25, 2016

Fruit


Yesterday I bit into a crisp red delicious apple. The sweet juice ran down my chin. The flavor burst in my mouth. The crunching sound of pure white flesh breaking told me the fruit was perfectly ripe with no rotting.
The Bible uses fruit as a metaphor for goodness in action.  Jesus said in Matthew 7:16 “You will know them by their fruits...Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.”  This statement seems simple enough to understand, however, it is not easy to do except through the power of the Holy Spirit of God. When we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. This Spirit is power within us. Many Scriptures reveal the Spirit’s guidance, love, teaching, illumination, and truth within us. 

Scripture uses fruit as a strong metaphor again in John 15 speaking of grapes and its vines. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

There is perhaps no more well-known and vivid picture of fruit than a luscious bunch of ripe grapes hanging on a vine. Grapes have been cultivated for millennia. Wine has been consumed for health and to bring happiness, or pain if overdone. But to make wine the grapes must be crushed and poured out.  This is the process of life, the journey, the pilgrimage of a Christian.  Paul described himself being poured out as a drink offering in Philippians 2:17. This verse speaks of being fully used for God’s purposes. 

Perhaps the most important passage in the New Testament book of Galatians regarding fruit speaks of walking in the Spirit and not fulfilling the lusts of the flesh.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” This is a listing of what walking in the Spirit means. We will be filled with the fruit, juice, wine, and liquor of God.  Against these there is no law. In other words these are godly traits and passions. They work together to create the best fruit possible, perfect in color, taste, smell and firm ripeness. How do we get these in increasing measure?  This fruit comes through abiding, living, dwelling in the vine of life-God.

The Book of Psalms opens with blessings for the man who delights in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf does not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” This tree that bears fruit is luxuriant and ever blooming. God makes clear from the beginning in Genesis 1:22 saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply.”  The Psalmist again in Psalm 128 says, “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. His wife will be like a fruitful vine.”

God speaks of fruit in Genesis and again in Revelation describes heaven pure and beautiful. “In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of nations”(Revelation 22:2).  Heaven is the consummation of fruitfulness. God is making clear throughout Scripture that “Fruit is better than gold” (Proverbs 8:19). It is what separates us from the world through Christ and the power of His Holy Spirit. It is not by power or might, but by His Spirit and its fruit that we serve and heal and live godly lives. May it be our prayer that we are filled with the Holy Spirit and His fruit always.


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