What makes a tree fruitful?
• Is it the location and the soil?
• Is it the climate?
• Is it the branches and the leaves?
• Is it the trunk of the tree?
• Is it the roots that make a tree fruitful?
It's none of those things! It can’t be location or the soil! It can’t be the climate....the branches......or the leaves! Why would I say such a thing? If you have ever been in the Okanogan Valley of British Columbia, you would understand what I mean! Do you realize that there are thousands of beautiful flourishing tree’s sitting on the mountain side of those 9000 ft beasts of rock! Some of the most beautiful Douglas fir trees grow on these beautiful landscapes! So going back to my question! What makes a tree fruitful? A farmer one time planted two fruit trees on opposite sides of his property. The one he planted to provide a hedge hide the unsightly view of an old landfill; the other to provide shade to rest under near a cool mountain stream which ran down beside his fields. As the two trees grew, both produced began to flower and bear fruit. One day the farmer decided to gather the fruit from the tree nearest his house "the one used to provide a hedge from the landfill. As he brought the fruit inside the house, he noticed that it was a little deformed "the symmetry of the fruit was not very good, but still the fruit looked edible. Later that evening, while sitting on his porch the farmer took one of the pieces of fruit for a snack. Biting into the fruit, he found it to be extremely bitter, and completely inedible. Casting the fruit aside he looked across the field to the other tree over by the mountain stream. After walking across the field, the farmer took a piece of the fruit from the other tree and bit into it. Find the fruit to be sweet and delicious he gathered several more pieces of fruit and took them to the house. The fruit was greatly affected by the nutrition of the root. Just as the tree grew by the landfill to be bitter, and the tree by the stream produced sweet fruit, so the Christian has a choice. He can either put down his roots into the soil of the landfill of fleshly pursuits, or into the cool refreshing stream of the person of Jesus Christ. We must understand that the root bears the fruit. The fruit of the Christian is the outward evidence of the inward motivation. Jesus said the exact same thing to His disciples "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, 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, 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, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." John 15:1-5. A tree grows by the source! Those deep roots found only in Jesus Christ....It’s the deep roots and trunk that gives it life.......and without the fruit it looks like every other tree. It’s much like the Christian life! Without fruit you look like the world! Smell like the world, behave like the world!
Let me ask you! Is the world crucified to you or does it still fascinate you? The Bible speaks numerous times about fruit!...............it’s mentioned 106 times in the Old Testament and 70 times in the New Testament. A believer is ONLY capable to produce fruit by God’s power....not our own! As the Lord said in Hosea 14:8 “Your fruit is found in Me." Jesus said "For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush." Luke 6:43-44. So how do I know I’m bearing fruit?.....................Let’s take the FRUIT TEST found in Gal 5:22-23! Paul just finished warning these blessed Christian’s by trying to do things in our own strength! (v1-v6). Why? Because the Spirit and the flesh don’t get along together in (v16-V18). Paul gives them some strong words in the beginning of this chapter.......The reason for this! If this is going to be your day to day lifestyle there is a strong possibility that you are not one of His childern.......Look what Paul says at the end of (v21) “will not inherit the Kingdom of God”. There is cause for concern here...Because what Paul is saying is "You will spend an eternity separated God and His glory!" Why? Becuase you chose the world over Christ, you chose pleasure over sacrifice, you chose comfort over rest in Him, you chose the flesh over Spirit. This is where the fruit test comes to play! Paul gives of a list of characteristics that live in the life of the Believer. Those whom have been saved by the power of the God through His Spirit! These are free gifts that the Spirit gives every believer at the point of conversion.......The question you need to ask yourself is...... Am I using these gifts to display Christ as extremely valuable?
1. IS THE FRUIT OF LOVE GROWING IN YOUR LIFE MORE TODAY THAN YESTERDAY?
Love characterizes your life.........Why? Because God is love. It’s best described in 1 Cor 13......“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy (jealous, or greedy); love does not parade (show off) itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." It’s a genuine love towards God and His children. It’s that same kind of love that Jesus showed when He went to the cross for you and me. It’s an unchanging and transforming love. It’s the kind of love that never was displayed in your life before He saved your soul from the depths of eternal Hell. This love is a reflection of personal choice, not simply to pleasant emotions or good feelings but to willing, self giving service. It’s a genuine love for people that you thought you could never love. You know that kind of love that John wrote about! “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 John 3:16
2. IS THE FRUIT OF JOY GROWING IN YOUR LIFE MORE TODAY THAN YESTERDAY?
Joy is used 70 times on the New Testament as an expression of happiness that is based on spiritual realties. This is a genuine joy that satisfies the soul through Jesus Christ and Him resurrected. A joy that satisfies the deepest needs of the soul in the midst of this secular world. People would ask! Isn’t happiness the same as joy? NO! Happiness depends on circumstance, where joy doesn’t. A person who is born again will have a joy that can never be removed by situation or circumstances of life. Joy will always bring gladness. Let me explain! It’s that same kind of joy that Heaven is filled with when you were saved. It’s that same kind joy that you want to share with others as the women and the lost coin parable that Jesus spoke of......Luke 15:9-10 “And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!' Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." It’s that joy that can only be filled by the God’s grace and Holy Spirit!
3. IS THE FRUIT OF PEACE GROWING IN YOUR LIFE MORE TODAY THAN YESTERDAY?
This refers to the tranquility of the mind that comes from that saving relationship with Jesus Christ. As joy and peace have no relationship to circumstance! Why? Because we as Christian’s know that God causes all things to work out for His glory.....Rom 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” It’s that inner peace when you can say with confidence “everything is going to be ok, because I know whom I serve with my whole life.” Peace is a gift from God! Remember what Jesus said to His disciples........“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:26
4. IS THE FRUIT OF PATIENCE GROWING IN YOUR LIFE MORE TODAY THAN YESTERDAY?
This has to do with tolerance and longsuffering. It’s the quality of putting up with others, even when one is severely tried. It’s that calm willingness to accept situations that may irritate you or cause you pain. The greatest example of patience is found in God with His creation! “God is slow to anger” Ps 86:15. Can I say boldly He expects the same from me and you as His saved children? He calls us to emulate our Lord’s patience by what Paul said to the church! Col 3:12-13 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” Again this only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer who willingly submits with adoration to the Spirit of God
5. IS THE FRUIT OF KINDNESS GROWING IN YOUR LIFE MORE TODAY THAN YESTERDAY?
This is in relation to that tender mercy or concern for others....a genuine concern that’s not out to make yourself look good to others. It’s comes from a genuine love for Christ and desire to treat others gently, just as the Lord treat us. Paul gives a great example of this to the church of Thessonlica “Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.” That genuine care for others...the divine kindness out which God acts towards men and women! The Christian is to show kindness by behaving towards others as God has behaved towards him.
6. IS THE FRUIT OF GOODNESS GROWING IN YOUR LIFE MORE TODAY THAN YESTERDAY?
Though it’s related to kindness....it differs from it in being a more active term. Goodness has to do with moral and spiritual excellence that known by its sweetness and active kindness. A prime example of this is found in the lesser known Joseph after he finds out that Mary is pregnant. Matt 1:18-20 “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man (observant of the law of God), and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit." He was a upright man.............(a righteous man who honoured God)....This was a great act of kindness. He had every right to have her stoned according to the Law of Moses (Deut 22:23)! But Joseph loved Mary so he decided the best thing to do was to “put her away” This means: Joseph deliberately consulted and determined within himself to dismiss her, or put her away by giving her a bill of divorce, in a very private manner (Deut 24:1)He loved Mary and didn’t want to disgrace her among their people......
7. IS THE FRUIT OF FAITHFULNESS GROWING IN YOUR LIFE MORE TODAY THAN YESTERDAY?
This is a loyalty and trustworthiness......”faithful is He who calls you” Act 1:11. Ask yourself are you reliable?....Can people depend on you, when you say you are going to do something or help? It’s being a faithful servant to those around you and most of all the Lord Jesus Christ. “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Rev 2:10. Let me ask you! Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ worthy being faithful to the very end? Paul thought so and so should we! “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”Acts 20:24
8. IS THE FRUIT OF GENTLENESS GROWING IN YOUR LIFE MORE TODAY THAN YESTERDAY?
This is better translated “meekness”........It’s a inward grace of the soul. It’s the temper of the Spirit in which we accept His dealing with us as good....without the arguing or resistance. Basically it’s a humble and gentle attitude that is patiently submissive in every situation of life....with the freedom or desire for revenge or retribution. James Boice said “It’s a person who is so much in control of himself that he is always angry at the right time and never angry at the wrong time.” A prime example of this is found in Moses “(Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)” Num12:3. This same principle applies to you and me!! We are to have that same humble spirit as Moses did....even in times of conflict! “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,” Eph 4:1-2
9. IS THE FRUIT OF SELF-CONTROL GROWING IN YOUR LIFE MORE TODAY THAN YESTERDAY?
This refers to restraining (temperate) our passions and appetites for the flesh. This is the quality that gives victory over the fleshly desires...which is sort of like putting on a chastity belt around our heart and around our body. The ability to say NO to peer pressure....... whether your 12 or 80 years old! We are all faced with the world and what it has to offer no matter how old we are!.......With the help of the Spirit and His power we will be able to say no! When faced with the pleasures of this present world. As Barclay said “self control is the great quality which comes to a man when Christ is in the heart, that quality which makes him able to live and to walk in the world, and to keep his garments unspotted from the world.” Remember what Paul said 1Co 9:24-27 “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
These are the divine gifts given to each and every child that is truly born again!! Remember, Christ died to give us these gifts....... so that we would make much of Him while we are here on this earth. This is part of our new nature.....This is part of what a tree looks like. Growing every day by the grace of the Spirit that lives within each and every one of us! But to be perfectlu clear on something! We may stronger in some of the gifts than others..............so we desperately need to be praying and asking the Spirit to help us grow in the ones that we don’t seem to be finding victory in! These are the qualities that of life that have been claimed by Jesus Christ and these gifts are given to us by His Holy Spirit! SO LET ME ASK YOU ONE SIMPLE QUESTION........Is your tree bearing more fruit today..... right now!? Because Jesus said ”you will know them by their fruit." We must yield to the Spirit, so that He can do His perfect work in and through our lives. This is something we cannot afford to lose! Use these gifts for His glory and for His honor!