I am going to challenge you today. Are you ready?
How much fruit are you growing? Are you growing any? Are they small and unripe? Are they in that between stage where they kind of look ripe but you can tell they’re not because either a side is still not the right color or the fruit is still hard? Or are they over-ripe; been hanging around too long and not being used?
Ladies, we are to bear fruit. Good fruit. Fruit that is ripe for the taking and actively being used.
I taught on this a while back when I was a sophomore in college. I led a small group weekly and we chose to dive into the Fruits of the Spirit. It sometimes can appear cliche but they are important, so we dove to understand what do they really mean for us.
Some fruits are inward and some are outward. And if you look at the list (c’mon, sing the jingle!) you will notice that none of them are innate in the flesh. Does joy come easy? Do you tend to be kind? Do you consistently display self-control? Are you constantly at peace? Is your patience permanent? Are you always faithful?
Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control. Against such things there is no law! Galatians 5:22-23
These attributes are of God. As believers pursuing His heart and godliness, we must strive for these. These are what make us stand out as disciples of Christ. You cannot say you are a Christian and neglect these. That is when you are like the fig tree that bore no fruit that Jesus cursed to die.
“Seeing a fig tree by the road, He went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then He said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.” Matthew 21:19 NIV
From a distance Jesus saw the leaves and appropriately assumed it had fruits. But drawing near, seeing it had none but instead was a deception, giving the appearance of having life when really developing none, Christ cursed it’s deceptive nature. That is what a Christian who does not grow fruit is like.
A few months after I taught these to my girls I read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. To be thankful is also not an innate attribute in humans. (Personally, I think this needs to be added as an honorable mention fruit.) I spent a few weeks looking up Scripture related to thankfulness and gratitude, and created my own list. I found, just like my girls when we had a challenge each week to practice the fruit we studied, is that it becomes more natural. The more you seek out and practice these fruits, the more you find they become a part of your daily habits.
Now, we don’t want them to become habits and routine to where they are mundane and not genuine, but we do want them to become habits and routine so that daily we can be reflections of the God we claim to serve.
Bearing fruit is critical to the growth and influence of a disciple; a genuine indication of a true follower of Christ.
When you are bearing fruit it is evidence of the work of God in you. It is an ever-growing change that declares you are truly redeemed and are pursuing Him.
“Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? … For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” James 2:20 & 26 ESV
Works means fruit. This doesn’t mean you have to work for your faith. It’s saying fruit (works) is evidence of your faith in Christ being sincere. People can walk the walk, talk the talk, go to church every time the doors are open and be on every committee, but that does not mean they are saved. They can give themselves the title of “Christian”, but unless they are developing, pruning, and sharing these fruits, you have to honestly wonder if their faith is sincere.
“All fruitfulness flows from intimacy.” Heidi Baker
To be intimate with God is to be in His Word. Scripture is how we get to know Him – His character, His attributes, His purpose for us, and how we come to be sanctified, turning into those who reflect Him. Digging into His Word, truly studying it and hiding it in our hearts, that is the only way you will come to understand what the fruits really mean for us.
“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. … Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in Me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. … When you produce much fruit, you are My true disciples. This brings great glory to My Father.” John 15:1-2, 5-6, 8 NLT
Just like the branches abiding (remaining, in constant contact with) the vine, we are to abide in God. A branch doesn’t bear fruit on its own. We cannot become godly followers on our own. God is our source.
It is the nourishment we receive from His Truth that feeds the fruit in our lives.
So the question remains; are you growing fruit? If not, what are the changes you need to make? Or, is your faith sincere? Are you hoarding your fruit, causing them to become over-ripe and spoiled? How are you putting into action these fruits every day?