Friday, February 1, 2019

Fruit

Are you bearing fruit? God uses several fruit references to speak of the good harvest that will come to those who abide in the vine or Christ. ‘I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts every branch in me that bears no fruit, while very branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. …I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”  (John 15:1-2,5). This is a metaphor of what God wants for us to be as His fruit bearers. So what is that fruit?

We read in Genesis of being “fruitful” and multiplying.  We read that Adam and Eve could eat of all the fruit except that from the tree in the middle of the garden. They were disobedient and ate, bringing much suffering into the world. Yet God continued to tell the patriarchs that they would be fruitful as they were obedient and trusted in God. “Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall” (Genesis 49:22). The Israelites were exceedingly fruitful as long as they were obedient.  I love the psalms that begin with speaking, “Blessed is the man…(whose) delight is in the law of the Lord…He is like a tree planted in streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaves do not wither” (Psalm1:1,2,3).  Psalm 72:3 says, “May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness.” Proverbs speaks of fruitfulness in Proverbs 8:19 saying, “My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver.” Proverbs 11:30 says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives.”  The New Testament crescendos with fruitfulness.

John the Baptist said to the Pharisees, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8). Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:16). All the Gospels speak of bearing good fruit which Paul describes as the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 saying, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against these there is no law.”  These are the characteristics of the Spirit, which we must bear in ever increasing amounts as we grow in righteousness through the Lord’s power within us. All of these are characteristics of holiness, which are also those of living in the light.  “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:8-11).   Again, goodness is repeated even though Paul made clear in Romans 3:12 saying as does David in Psalm 53:3, “All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”   We are made good as a gift of God, not of ourselves.

So what do we do to produce good fruit? James tells us to seek God’s wisdom saying, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). It is a lifelong quest for Christians until we see God in heaven where there is all fruitfulness, in fact, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations”  (Revelation 22:2).  Yes, it finally comes together in the New Heaven and New Earth, which are described by John in the Revelation of Christ. But in the meantime, God wants us to be full of the Holy Spirit and bear His good fruit.


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