SCRIPTURE SEEDS | FRUIT
This season we’ve talked a lot about planting, watering, waiting, harvesting. Today we’re in the middle of Holy Week, and Easter Sunday is ever near. Friend, can you believe we’re in the last few days of Lent? Maybe this season has flown by, or maybe it’s been forever long. Wherever you are, take a moment and look back at these last several weeks. What do you remember? Do you notice any patterns? Any changes? Perhaps, do you find something new has begun to grow?
Anyone who knows me well would agree I’m on team fruit. My fridge might be pretty much empty sometimes when it’s time for a grocery run, but I can tell you this: I always keep the produce drawer stocked. Maybe I’m crazy, but a bowl of fresh fruit is my favorite food. I can’t help but think it’s no coincidence God uses fruit and not vegetables in Scripture. I mean let’s face it. Vegetable of the Spirit just doesn’t have the same taste. There’s a certain sweetness fruit gives that simply can’t be replaced.
Have you ever been blueberry or strawberry picking? I have way too much fun with it, but there’s something about berry picking that I haven’t given a second thought to until now — I gravitate to picking the best fruit. I don’t want mushy blueberries or past prime strawberries. Even if I have to dig a little deeper, I want the cream of the crop. This almost subconscious search for the best fruit (I’m even guilty in the grocery store!) reminds me of the passage in Luke 6. “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thorn bushes and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes.” Luke 6:43-44 NLT. Yesterday in our Scripture Seeds set, we read the recount of Jesus and the fig tree. Of course, a fig is a fruit. In Matthew 21 we discover Jesus is searching for fruit to eat, but the fig tree He finds only has leaves. Its fruitlessness causes Jesus to curse the tree so it will bear neither fruit nor leaves again. The tree symbolizes the hearts of believers; namely the Jews in context of this Scripture passage. They professed faith, but their hearts were hardened towards Jesus. He looked for fruit in their faith, but only found leaves among them. This fig tree serves as a warning sign to us today.
Now, when I first read about this fig tree, I didn’t really know what it meant from the surface. I needed to dig deeper, so I have learned a lot from Matthew Henry’s commentary about it. I want to share a quote from his many insights on this passage. Here’s one: "A false and hypocritical profession commonly withers in this world, and it is the effect of Christ's curse; the fig-tree that had no fruit, soon lost its leaves. Hypocrites may look plausible for a time, but, having no principle, no root in themselves, their profession will soon come to nothing; the gifts wither, common graces decay, the credit of the profession declines and sinks, and the falseness and folly of the pretender are manifested to all men."
This quote reminds me of the Parable of the Sower in Luke 8 — the seeds that fell on rocks and thorns did not take root or produce good fruit. So is it true with seeds of our faith — faith without roots does not last.
“And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.”
Luke 8:15 NLT
Jesus meets us wherever we find ourselves with grace and water buckets of His Word. We persevere by keeping our eyes fixed on Him (Hebrews 12:2). These words also help put a garden gate at the entrance of our hearts; keeping out the false prophets, teachings, and ideas that infiltrate our culture today. They will wither and be exposed at some point, but God’s Word stands forever (Isaiah 40:8). His Word tells us so!
I don’t know about you, but I’m quick to line up all the things I’ve accomplished and call it fruit. True, these are fruits of labor, which can be good things! But the real fruit we’re talking about doesn’t stop there; it goes deeper. Fruit is evidence of a Spirit-filled life. I love how The Passion Translation describes the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5. In this version, the fruits are put into action, which I believe helps us see them at work in our lives.
"But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless." (Galatians 5:22-23 TPT)
Read those again. Write each one on paper. What evidence of fruit do you see specifically in your life today? Get real, get grateful, and give yourself grace. There is always room for more fruit in the garden to grow.
There’s a handy little footnote in this verse giving us extra insight about fruit. It says that the Greek word for fruit in this context is harvest. Fruit is a result of what’s inside us, so the harvest we yield is evidence of a Spirit-filled life, or a non-Spirit filled life.
"People are known in this same way. Out of the virtue stored in their hearts, good and upright people will produce good fruit. Likewise, out of the evil hidden in their hearts, evil ones will produce what is evil. For the overflow of what has been stored in your heart will be seen by your fruit and heard in your words.” (Luke 6:45 TPT)
Whew! So what we produce and what we say reveals what’s in our heart. Some days, maybe we feel pretty good about that. And others? Our humanness shows, amen? But there’s good news: Jesus has authority over the fruit in our lives. He sees and knows us, and still chooses to love us. After all, He is the vine and we are the branches. We cannot harvest fruit without Him. (We’re looking at you, fig tree). He gives us everything we need to grow and harvest abundantly. This fruit is limitless! He is with us in our working, tending, waiting. And His Word promises us, we will reap a harvest of blessing at the right time if we don’t give up (Galatians 6:9). May it be so.