Saturday, April 12, 2014
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law...Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit" Galatians 5:22-23, 25.
Now, if this pyracantha branch with its plump fruit and shiny leaves were cut from the bush from which it grows, it wouldn't be long before the berries would begin to shrivel and the leaves would dry up and turn brown. It would cease being a thing of beauty and nourishment to birds and animals and become useless. This illustrates what happens to we as Christians when we fail to stay attached to our heavenly Father and let His strength and power and love work through us. Jesus talked about that truth in John 15, when He said:
"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...Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine...If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing....This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples...I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."
When I was younger, I thought the fruit we were commanded to bear was souls won to the Lord -- that was our fruit. Indeed, that is fruit that is important to our Father the Gardener, but it is not the only fruit that is important to Him. As I grew older and studied the scriptures, I discovered that the fruit of the Spirit is what God speaks of more often than not. He is cultivating His children to be loving and joyous, peaceful and patient, kind and gentle, faithful and controlled. These are fruit that grow as we mature in Christ and this is fruit that brings great glory to the Almighty Gardener.
God likens His seeking, growing child to a tree planted by streams of water "which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." Furthermore, as His children, we are commanded to "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" Ephesians 5:8-10.
As we grow older in years, this verse in Psalm is especially encouraging: "They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing" 92:14.
I think each of us would like to bear fruit as attractive and luscious-looking as those red berries in the picture. I think the truth found in Matthew 6:33 holds a clue on how to bear more fruit for the Father: "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."