God loves good fruit! As the Master Creator, He designed a creative variety of fruit for us to enjoy. Fruit is a picture of a healthy life. The same is true with spiritual fruit – the outflow of your life. How you relate to God and to other people can determine what kind of fruit you are growing. The source of good fruit is from God. Jesus tells us in John 15:1 that He is the true Vine and His Father is the Vinedresser. (See devotion number 34 in the book.)
What is this spiritual fruit? “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.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Those with developed spiritual fruit in their lives didn’t get that way overnight. It’s a process, much like planting and growing fruit. It takes time, and it takes resilience. The more we get tested in these areas, the more we have the opportunity to grow. The tests do come! We can only pass those test with Jesus guiding us. “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:24-26)
What are these passions and desires being spoken about? They all can be boiled down to one thing: selfishness. The root of our sinful selves is that weak, self-centered, greedy human nature. We find out what’s inside us when we’re tested. If we’ve been feeding our selves, our flesh, we see the bad fruit come out in our words and our actions. Unfortunately, if we fail these tests, we get to take them over and over until we pass. The tests may not all look the same, but they’ll be aiming at the same weakness in us. Over time, the tests become more unpleasant.
This season has been a true season of testing – one of public and private unrest as well as political and social contention. In praying for this, one word the Lord showed me was “disdain.” Disdain encompasses pride and hatred as it means: “the feeling that someone or something is unworthy of one’s consideration or respect; contempt.” We like to be “right” and when we come to disdain others who don’t agree with us, we’ve crossed a line. James 3:8-10 says, “But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been make in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things out not to be this way,” Society at large and some believers have missed opportunities to bear good fruit.
If we’ve been feeding our spirit in the Word and in the Spirit, we have a better chance of making better choices by the grace and strength of God. The more we pass the tests, the more we grow. In fact, when we pass the tests, we grow faster, even if we’ve experienced pain in letting go of some trait in us we’d prefer to keep. Even so, we sense the pleasure of God on the inside of us. Others may find pleasure in our growth, too, as we often become more pleasant.
People can tell what kind of fruit we’re bearing by what comes forth from us. Jesus spoke plainly when He said, “For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For me do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings froth what is evil, for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” (Luke 6:43-45)
Just so you know, the tests given to us to grow our character do not end this side of heaven. It’s all good, though, because Jesus continues in John 15: “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which i have spoken to you. Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing…If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (john 15:2-11)
God loves us so much, He doesn’t want us to go through life burdened and miserable. He wants us to greet us in eternity with great joy as we have developed relationship with Him and others, growing that good fruit with Him. Can we spend that time with Him in His Word and His Spirit to allow that cleansing, that pruning that He talks about? I want more fruit, much fruit, and more of that joy! God loves good fruit!