Day 3: The Fruit We Bear
By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
John 15:8 ESV
And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” –Ezekiel 47:12
The moment I read this Scripture for the first time, I wanted to be this kind of tree. I wanted to be a spiritual tree producing fruit that would not fail, leaves that would not wither and be a source of healing to others.
In true Stacy fashion, I started working to produce fruit. I made a list from Galatians 5 and determined to have love, joy, peace, patience…. You get the picture. I’m not sure where I got the notion one can work to make their own fruit. After all an apple tree doesn’t stand in the yard and say, I’m going to make apples today. No an apple tree grows strong and when the season is right it produces apples for the world to enjoy.
I’m no different. I produce spiritual fruit for others as a natural growth process. I grow in my relationship with God and fruit appears. The deeper my roots sink into the waters of the sanctuary, the more fruit I produce. No trying, no manufacturing because it is not my fruit. It’s the Spirit’s. And He makes fruit available through me to meet the needs of others.
Whew! That’s a relief because I’m no good at growing fruit on my own.
The fruit we bear and give is not something we recognize in ourselves, it just happens.
I was walking out of Sunday school one morning when a woman from my Sunday school class caught up with me. She pulled out a letter from the back of her Bible and told me how much it meant to her that I had written. How the letter had moved her forward in her spiritual journey.
Color me surprised. I didn’t remember writing. And I only had a superficial relationship with her at the time. I was completely stumped. But like most of us do in these situations, I smiled, nodded, listened, thanked her for thanking.
I continued down the hall, she must have confused me with someone else. Then I remembered. Several years earlier, during a stewardship campaign people were asked to write letters to members of the congregation about the importance of stewardship. I was one who volunteered to write. There were about twenty or so names on my list.
I prayed. I asked God what to write. I wanted it to be personal, so I hand wrote the same message in each letter. Her name was one on my list. She did receive a letter from me.
Something I’d completely forgotten. Let Him work through me. He used as spiritual fruit in this sister’s life. I was blown away.
There is something more than our stuff we’re given to give. Something from within, which grows out of our relationship with Him.
Read John 15:8
What brings glory to the Father? What does it prove?
Disciples of Jesus are proven to be His disciples by bearing much fruit, which brings His Father glory. This is what we are called to do. Be fruitful.
We generally think of fruit as coming from trees and plants, not people. But God, in His grace, uses metaphors and word pictures to relay spiritual truths to His children through something familiar. Because the truth is, compared to Him, no matter how smart we are or what our IQ, our comprehension is child-like when it comes to our ability to understand the spiritual reality of His Kingdom.
What do you know about trees and their fruit?
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, fruit is a product of plant growth, it’s usually edible, and essential to reproduction of the species. God’s Word confirms this definition in Genesis. Trees are not nourished by their own fruit, it was given to benefit people as food.
The same is true for the spiritual fruit Believers bear. It’s a product of spiritual growth and maturity, it is a means of multiplying – making more disciples – and it is for others, not the fruit-bearer.
Of course, the spiritual fruit of Believers doesn’t grow on the outside, it’s only visible through our words and actions. What does it look like?
Read Galatians 5:22-23
What is the fruit of the Spirit?
The fruit of the Spirit is a supernatural sign of spiritual growth. It is not of our own making or a product of our will-power. It is produced by the Holy Spirit at work in our lives.
All aspects of the fruit of the Spirit are appealing, just like the fruit of trees is desirable, sweet. However, Believers are sometimes confused about the purpose of fruit. We forget it is not to nourish us, it is for the benefit of others.
We are called to love others with the same supernatural love He loves us. But it doesn’t follow we will be loved in return or even feel loving. Jesus loved others perfectly and was crucified. We are called to bless others with peace, be peacemakers as far as it depends on us, but there’s no guarantee others will live at peace with us. The same with patience, kindness, goodness, etc. We are called to bear this fruit for the benefit of others, but not expect anything in return.
Only God makes things grow. But we are called to cultivate a life which prepares the way for fruit-bearing.
What do these Scriptures reveal about those who are fruitful?
Walking God’s way in obedience enables Believers to bear fruit in season, at just the right time. Trusting God ensures we will never cease to bear fruit. Obedience and trust prepare our heart for spiritual growth and much fruit-bearing, which glorifies God and multiplies His Kingdom.
Giving the fruit we bear within the community of Believers blesses the church with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. We are spiritually nourished by receiving the fruit of fellow Believers. Fellowship is strengthened and we are prepared to go out into the world. And for those who look in, something very different is going on than in the rest of the world.
When unbelievers experience the fruit of Believers they see disciples of Jesus in action. They see the Word made flesh. What they see or experience points them to God. He uses the fruit we give to open their eyes to faith in Him, bringing Him glory through our fruitfulness.
Bearing fruit is a supernatural work, we don’t always see it happening, but others see it in us and are blessed. All we have to do is be available to give what He produces in us.
Talk It Out
Talk it over with yourself:
Has anyone ever said something to you about your character you didn’t see in yourself? Was it positive? or negative? How did it make you feel?
Are you working to cultivate a life which bears the fruit of the Spirit? If so, how? If not, why not?
Talk it over with God:
Ask God to help you weed out anything in your heart which hinders the Holy Spirit from producing His fruit in your life.
“… Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. …”
Matthew 3:8 ESV
Exercise Your Faith
Today, give your inner life some attention. Build on your talk with God and begin cultivating your heart in anticipation of bearing fruit to give others. Spend time with the Holy Spirit asking what work needs to be done in your soul to be fruitful for Him.
Commit to a plan of action. Be open to a new spiritual discipline He may call you to in order to make your spirit a place He can bless with growth.
As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
Luke 8:15 ESV
And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Acts 20:35b NKJV
Take a moment to emphasize the bold word in the Reflection Scripture. Say it more than once. How does it sound to your ear? What thoughts are stirred in you?
Producing fruit is not work. It is the result of a growing, healthy relationship with God. How does His Word contribute to your growth?
What words of His come to mind in this moment?
What emotions do you feel when you consider giving Him space to produce fruit?
What if it is not exactly the kind of fruit you imagined it would be?