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What Sort of Fruit is on Your Branches?
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“Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and things like these; of which I tell you beforehand, as I also said before, that the ones practicing such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. Against such things there is not a law. But the ones belonging to Christ crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become vainglorious, provoking one another, envying one another.” - Galatians 5:19-26
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you dressed as sheep, but inside they are devouring wolves. You will fully recognize them by their fruits. Do people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every healthy (sound) tree bears good fruit [worthy of admiration], but the sickly (decaying, worthless) tree bears bad (worthless) fruit. A good (healthy) tree cannot bear bad (worthless) fruit, nor can a bad (diseased) tree bear excellent fruit [worthy of admiration]. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire. Therefore, you will fully know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name and driven out demons in Your name and done many mighty works in Your name? And then I will say to them openly (publicly), I never knew you; depart from Me, you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].” - Matthew 7:15-23, Amplified
Fruit. There's nothing like it on a hot summer afternoon. The anticipation of enjoying the taste of a sweet, ripe, juicy bite of fruit can be quite wonderful. But have you ever selected what looks like the very juiciest piece of fruit you've ever seen in your life only to bite into it and find the inside is bitter or dry? I think that can be one of the most disappointing moments in a person's life. Nothing tragic or earth-shattering, but disappointing none-the-less. The fruit was presenting itself to be something it wasn't - it was in fact an imposter. What about you? Are you an imposter, too?
Every person bears fruit. The question is, is the fruit good or rotten? When we become disciples of Christ, God expects our harvest to reflect the fact that we are now children of God. In the Scripture passages referenced above, we can see the sort of fruit that is produced by the world as well as the fruit that is supposed to be produced by a believer in Messiah. These are not gifts given to us by God through the Holy Spirit, but rather are qualities that we need to cultivate in our own lives, relying on God's work in us through His Word by His Holy Spirit.
Now, without naming names or laying guilt at anyone's doorstep, you wouldn't happen to know anyone who has accepted Christ's atonement and still has rotten fruit on their tree, would you? Or how about a believer who puts on a good show Sunday mornings or when there are around other believers, but is really masking the smell of decaying fruit in their lives? (Just a little reminder - when you point a finger at someone else, there are three more pointing right back at yourself!)
I'm no gardener, but one thing I do know is that in order for a plant to grow well there are several things it must have. Water, sunlight and soil are all necessities. But what if you really want the plant to take off? You add fertilizer! I understand that manure is an excellent fertilizer. Just spread it around that plant, mix it into the soil, and you've got it made! Let's carry this analogy over to ourselves as “fruit trees” for God.
In order for our fruit to grow we also need water (the Word of God - Eph. 5:26), Sonlight (Christ's atonement for our sin), and soil (hearing and understanding God's Word - Matt. 13:23). Unfortunately, we need a good dose of manure every once in a while to see the kind of fruit that's really growing in our lives. This manure can come in the form of stress, pressure or adverse circumstances of any kind. In the book of Luke, chapter 6, verse 45, the Lord Himself tells us, “The good man brings forth good out of the good treasure of his heart. And the evil man brings forth evil out of the evil treasure of his heart, for his mouth speaks out of the abundance of his heart.” Oh, how true these words are. When things are going smoothly we can keep a tight rein over what comes out of our mouths. But turn the screws a bit and we start slipping. Let the hammer really fall and all pretense is thrown out the window. Our mouths become a gateway for the true intentions of our heart. This is when our real fruit is exposed. Ouch!
Here's that list of Godly fruit again. “But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. Against such things there is not a law.” (Gal. 5:22-23) I suppose a person could fake it for a while, pretending to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, meek and self-controlled. But for how long? And once that manure is piled on it doesn't take long for the façade to drop. How then do we really cultivate these spiritual fruit? And what exactly are they? Let's take a look at these same two verses from the Amplified Bible to get a little more insight. “But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].”
(I've found that it's best to gather as much information as possible before jumping to conclusions - especially where Scripture is concerned. I'm not saying that any one translation of the Bible is “the” translation, unless you go back to the original Hebrew and Greek. There are so many nuances in the original languages that are lost in translation it is sometimes difficult to grasp the original concepts without doing some digging first.)
In the Amplified version there is a very important notation. We see that the fruit of the Spirit is “the work which His presence within accomplishes.” What a comfort to realize that it is the Holy Spirit's work in us that produces this fruit. No, we're not totally off the hook. We need to spend time with God in praise, worship and prayer. We also need to spend time in His Word. It is through this time spent with God that His Holy Spirit will begin working in our lives and we will begin to bear the fruit that God desires. As Christ states in John 6:29, “This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger].” All we need to do is believe and trust in the One God has sent - Jesus. We need to keep our eyes on Him and allow His Holy Spirit to work in our lives. We needn't be concerned with religious works or busy-ness - all that does is take our focus off of the Lord. We must allow, and even welcome, the work that God will do in our lives when we begin bearing Kingdom fruit.
“I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit. You are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you [the teachings I have discussed with you].” - John 15:1-3, Amplified
“[You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, so that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed.” I Peter 1:6-7, Amplified
Remember, without fertilizer and pruning a tree simply won't be as productive as it should be so rejoice when God brings out His pruning shears! That means you're still bearing fruit and you'll be bearing more excellent fruit soon!
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13 Jun 2004
This is truly an out standing article! Believe me I have been well fertilized and pruned way back many times. It is a very hurtful process for the most part. However, I can see many changes brought about in my life due to God's amazing gardening skills. Thank you for sharing this with us.
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