Stepping down memory lane, I look back at my student days…Every Sunday I would try out a different cake from the Australian Women’s Weekly cakes and slices cookbook or from my favourite Edmonds SURE and RISE cookbook. Trust me, nothing beats that good old New Zealand cook book! Of course my best friend at Engineering School would race to class on Monday morning and ask me what I baked and ensure I brought him a slice!!
As I was also into cake decorating, the texture of the cake was even more important. I learnt how to discover what went wrong based on how the cake came out, on what was seen in the texture – was it sunken, did it have ‘bubbles’ on the surface etc etc. Then it could be fixed the next time round adjusting the quantities of the ingredients or the oven temperatures etc. The symptoms lead to problem solving and thus the solution gets discovered. AND the cake can be decorated and made to look awesome too!
As believers we often take this approach to our life. We see the symptoms of our behaviours and of other peoples behaviours and like the cake, we think we can adjust the ingredients and directly change the behaviour. We weigh down ourselves and people with DO’s and DON’Ts, It doesn’t work that way! . Instead of liberating and freeing, it adds to the problem by adding condemnation and even hopelessness. Conviction is so different from condemnation.
Anyway why doesn’t it work that way? Our behaviours are comparable to FRUIT not cake! Is it of any wonder that love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control are described as the FRUIT of the SPIRIT. In Galatians 5, these attributes are contrasted with the acts of the flesh, that are opposite in nature. The fruit is described as OF THE SPIRIT. It isn’t of us!
Like with the cake, can we adjust the fruit to the texture and appearance and taste that we want and be guaranteed of it? Can we wake up one morning and look at the fruit that the tree in the garden is bearing and say, ‘hey, I think I want it to be this way and that way.. let me touch up the fruit’. Sounds absurd? Well, that’s what we do try to do with ourselves! A bit like today’s models being photo-shopped after putting up so much of make-up that it’s no longer them!
We can’t specify how we can modify the fruit directly. Yet there are things to yield ‘good’ fruit.
Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognised by its fruit – Matthew 12:33
The tree needs to have the right amounts of soil, water, sun, temperature, manure and needs to be pruned often. Ouch! That hurts.. but pruning is important to nourish.. That’s how our lives as believers ought to be. The more we are rooted in Jesus, the deeper our intimacy with our Heavenly Father, we bear quality fruit. Jesus says,
I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener….
Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. 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 1:1,4-5
Living water none other than Jesus, the Word of God cleanses, renews us and refreshes us. Jesus’ work on the cross cleanses us from our past sins and gives us a new life!
You are already clean because of the Word I have spoken to you – John 1:3
The Holy Spirit dazzles on us like the bright sun, illuminating the Word, bringing revelation, conviction and inspiration. We are then led by the Holy Spirit.
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance – Matthew 5:8
Fellowship with other believers is like the manure that nourishes and edifies the atmosphere to thrive in HIM, to love one another and encourage one another and share in the joys and the sorrows. Jesus tells us,
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name. This is my command. Love each other – John 1;16>17
Then comes the dreaded pruning! Oh yes, there is plenty of that for us in HIM.
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 – John 1:2
We are the branches.. and those of us who do not bear fruit will be not only cut off and thrown into the fire of hell – Matthew 3;10. Remember these are the branches in HIM that do not bear fruit that will be CUT OFF. it is the fruit that He is looking for. Jesus actually related a parable to the religious leaders and then said, The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit –Matthew 21:43.
There was an instance where Jesus was hungry and looked for fruit from the fig tree and there was nothing (Matthew 21:19). In fact Mark records in 11:13 the fact that it wasn’t even the season for figs. Yet Jesus spoke to the tree, “May you never bear fruit again” and the tree withered.
- Are we like this fig tree no fulfilling the purpose for the tree – not bearing fruit only to be withered putting an end to life?
As we yield the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, we will automatically bear fruit for His Kingdom and glory! If we are abiding in Jesus, we cannot bear bad fruit!
No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognised by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks – Luke 6:43-45
- What do your words and your actions speak of what is in your heart?
Remember FRUIT of the Spirit is exactly that – of the SPIRIT, not of our own works… And as we are led by the Holy Spirit, the more the fruit of the Spirit is yielded while the acts of the flesh lessen!!