Whether in the loud, chaotic and perhaps not the cleanest of markets or whether in a section in a posh, hygienic and well lit supermarket, fruit stalls never cease to catch the eye… The variety of shapes, colours, textures, smells and even flavours seem to be endless, tempting all the senses. Their nutritional values simply add to the appeal. These are natural marketing techniques if you ask me! Having said that, how often do we get an array of flavours to tantalise the palates even within the same fruit? Bitter, sweet, sour, watery…. In addition to that, each fruit has various attributes / components such as the ‘fruit’, the peel, the seeds, the core, the stem…
We cannot create a fruit. The tree bears it. The quality depends on the rooting of the tree – where is it rooted, how well is it rooted, does it get sufficient factors required for nurturing etc. Trees often need to be pruned to improve the quality of the fruit and branches that don’t bear fruit need to be cut down!
This is a fitting analogy for our spiritual life. The fruit we bear is the fruit of the Spirit. Like each fruit has several attributes, the fruit of the Spirit has NINE aspects to it – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22,23). It is not something we can create, it’s not the work of our hands – it’s beyond us. We may be able to put a show or rather a pious attitude but that’s not the real thing. We may fool others or even ourselves, but God sees the heart and not the appearances. The quality of the fruit we bear depends on our relationship with God. Are we well rooted in Him? Are we increasingly yielding our flesh to the Holy Spirit? Do we immerse ourselves in spiritual disciplines – meditating on His Word, spending quality time with Him desiring to hear His voice, seeking Him for direction in everything we do, seeking Him and His righteousness first and foremost etc?
Jesus says, “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… 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 15:1-7)
We need to sing with joy when He prunes us – so that we will be even more fruitful. What an awesome privilege to be fruitful for Him? How often do we despair at being ‘pruned’ and murmur for the lack of blessings? Why do we fail to see the pruning as a blessing? Remember God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).
The more we yield to the Holy Spirit, the Fruit of the Spirit will become increasingly evident while the acts of the sinful nature will begin to lessen. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like (Galatians 5:19-21). It is important to carefully take note of the acts of the sinful nature so that we know where we stand. However, we should not condemn ourselves let alone judge others with these acts as we are all human. We have been created in the image of God, but we have been marred by the fall of mankind. This image will not be restored until the last day.
There is no way that the acts of the sinful nature will be eradicated totally. So let’s not have unrealistic expectations! Let’s be grateful that we serve a loving God, our Heavenly Father who disciplines and yet loves. Let’s be grateful that Jesus is the Lion and the Lamb – of justice / truth and of grace who sees our hearts and forgives when our heart longs to do a U-turn. On the other hand we need to be aware that God is not fooled by those who simply speak with their tongues but not with their hearts. “The Lord says, these people come near to me with their mouth and honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Isaiah 29:13).
The branches that do not bear fruit are cut off. Not bearing fruit is an indication of a heart that is not yielded to God. You may have not invited Him into your heart. For that matter, you may have invited Him into your heart and live a ritualistic “Christian” life. If the Fruit of the Spirit is not evident, then you do need to pause and reflect. The warning is clear – such branches will be cut and burnt – burnt in hell.
However, as the Fruit becomes apparent, then people will be drawn to the tree, the True Vine that bears the fruit. Our lives become witnesses to the work of God. “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8).
- Have you invited Jesus into your life? If not, please think twice before it is too late. Remember time is running out.
- Are you a religious person who goes with the motions of being a Christian? Are your lips and your heart in sync with one another? Is your heart honouring God too? Are you a branch that does not bear fruit that deserves to be cut off and burnt?
- Are you a branch that remains in the vine and bears fruit that is pruned often?
- What trials are you facing today? Are you able to count your blessings as this is to be even more fruitful for the Father’s glory?