Q Zone: Just What is Fruit?

FruitAs we delved further into Matthew 13 last week, concluding that fruit is the acid test of a true root, the obvious question is glaring: Just what exactly is the fruit that our lives yield? Believe it or not, this was precisely the question texted in during the service. But since we chose not to address questions live this past week, we’ll do so here.

Furthermore, a listener was also wondering, “Is there a way to ‘weed our ground’ so that it is as fruit-bearing as possible?”

Let’s take  shot at both in a connected way. Ready?

Specifically, Paul discusses and names the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22,23“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” So there’s no doubt, from the clear use of these specific words, God’s Spirit will produce within his children at least these 9 evidences/traits listed by Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. While we could spend weeks on just these attitudes, the point of this blog is simply to show that there is actual, specific, identifiable fruit mentioned in Scripture.

A caution — this fruit, if you’ll notice, is singular (in the original language, too), which means we don’t approach this list chronologically — in a sequential, “to do” type of way — but rather organically. In other words, we don’t try and humanly produce each one and then move on to the next one. Instead, we simply submit to the Spirit daily, walking in him and being empowered by him (Eph. 5:18). This supernaturally brings forth one thingfruit (i.e., evidence) that God’s Spirit is working in us! You see, this is a relationship, not a contract, and change flows from that — the relationship!

This is counter-intuitive to how we approach most things as American, western-thinking Christians. We love to get our list done and go to the next item, don’t we? We really enjoy finishing tasks and checking the “Done” box. But this is more of a manufacturing mindset, not an agricultural one. And the fruit analogy is no doubt rooted in a field, not a factory. So don’t think about this list as nine things to do, but rather as one relationship to nourish. As you do, God’s Spirit will simultaneously and supernaturally — and usually slowly — manifest his fruit in your life in multiple ways, specifically the “new and improved” mindsets and attitudes mentioned in these verses. It’s one change — the Spirit’s — seen in a variety of ways.

Of course, one  would question next if this list, then, contains the only traits that can be considered “fruit.” I don’t think so. The writer of Hebrews refers to praise and thankfulness as “the fruit of our lips” (Hebrews 13:15), and Jesus indicates that answered prayer is also a “fruit” that stems from being “in him” (John 15:7,8).

So I like to say that fruit — the acid test over time that we truly are born of the truth — is God showing on the outside what he is doing on the inside. This is theologically accurate, biblically consistent, and practically understandable.

Since, then, the Spirit’s fruit is organic (i.e., grown by God internally), what can we do to maximize the soil for God’s work? Is there a way we “weed the ground” so that fruit grows consistently? You bet!

Based on what I see in the parable, I’d recommend at least three actions:

1. Learn to think with discernment, not just emotion. Remember — emotions aren’t sinful; they are made by God for our benefit. But left alone without the Spirit’s guidance, they can be dangerous. So don’t eliminate your emotions; rather, translate them. This means using spiritual discernment to make decisions, not fleshly emotion. Filter everything by the Word, and filter it twice. Check and double check. Even wait before “wading in.” Doing this will keep your life’s soil generally free from superficial roots that never amount to anything in the long run.

2. Scrutinize your schedule. Busyness seems to be the curse of the current church, and if we’re not careful, all those things that seem to demand our interest — life’s pursuits — actually start crowding out what should be our primary concern — God’s kingdom. This may sound harsh, but be ruthless in evaluating how you spend your time, money, and energy. Why? Because God’s kingdom won’t grow amid a hundred other things. It’s true physically and spiritually — Divided loyalty is essentially defeated love.

3. Soak in the Word. As basic as it sounds, this is usually what is most overlooked. And primarily because we avoid #2 — we get too busy to simply read the Bible regularly. Personally, I have discovered that the ground of my life experiences inevitable change when the soil of my soul takes God’s Word at face value daily, diligently, and “dosefully” (yeah, I made that word up). In other words, at least a portion of Scripture every day in some way, no matter what.  Read it. Listen to it. Memorize it. Watch it. Say it. Share it. Do it. As this becomes a habit, holiness becomes apparent. That is, what God is doing on the inside starts showing on the outside. And that’s fruit!

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