Do you bear fruit? Perhaps you’ve never thought of yourself as bearing fruit. Biblical contemporaries grew their own foods, tended orchards, and depended on their crops for their livelihood. Thus, we have many biblical food illustrations. The fruit is the end product of the planting season. First comes the seed, which is placed strategically in the ground. The seeds of our fruit as a Christian are being planted throughout our lives. As the water of love, relationships, and experiences pours into us, the seed becomes active and begins to grow. When we accept Jesus into our lives, the seed sprouts and the Holy Spirit continues to nurture the seed of our fruit.
In Galatians 5:22-23 Paul says, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Obviously, we don’t walk around sprouting fruit from our appendages. But the result of our fruit or actions should be as sweet to the recipient and as pleasing to God as if we gave away scrumptious, edible fruit. What the big deal is about bearing fruit as a Christian? Should it matter to us? It matters to God. He created us to be in relationship with Him and to be His hands and feet on earth. The fruit is a sign we are in a solid relationship with God and we have chosen to produce “fruit” that blesses the lives of others and points them to God. If you are not sure what bearing fruit means and what the signs of the fruit in your life are, let’s take a closer look.
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Do You Bear Fruit? Sign 1: Love
One of the first Bible verses we learn as children is “God is love” (1 John 4:8). God loves us; thus, the seed is planted. A popular description of God’s love can be found in 1 Corinthians 13. When many people speak of love, they are speaking of an emotion or a feeling. But God’s love is a choice. Just as he chose to send Jesus to die on the cross for us, we must also choose to love those around us. It doesn’t matter if we feel like loving them, God’s true love dictates we should love them because we choose to love them, just as He chose to love us.
Have you ever had a wayward child? Did you just cease loving him or her because of the behavior he engaged in or a wrong choice she made? Of course not. You continued to love him because he is your child and you love him no matter what. You made the choice to love him or her, just as God loves you. You put your own feelings or choices aside to put another person first. That is God’s fruit.
Unless you choose to love God, your life may be filled with bitterness and you may be a very lonely person. Others will miss seeing the love of God in you as He intended. And your Christian testimony will lack power because your life does not back up your words.
Sign 2: Joy
People sometimes equate joy with happiness. Happiness may be an outward sign of joy, but true joy goes deeper than that. Joy is a matter of the heart. If your joy fruit is based on life’s circumstances, what happens when things aren’t going your way? Your joy vanishes so you are left fruitless with nothing to share with others. James 1:2 says, “Count it all joy.” All is the keyword—the good and the bad. If we trust in God’s master plan for our lives, that trust will overcome any circumstances. We will live out Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Without the joy of Jesus, we find it difficult to be joyful in every situation. However, if our joy springs from joy in Jesus, we will weather every storm with a smile. When you encounter someone whose heart is not full of the joy of Jesus, you will recognize that person as one who is sad and sees the world through negative filters. Their emotions often are out of control and the lack of joy causes him or her to be unhappy with his or her place in the world.
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Sign 3: Peace
You don’t have to look very far to see that the world we live is in full of turmoil. People observe their surroundings and search for a respite from the chaos and tragedy. Many people equate the word peace with calmness. True, if you are at peace, you are calm. However, lasting peace comes from within and doesn’t depend on circumstances. The fruit of peace comes to us when the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts.
In John 14:27 Jesus tells us “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” In other words, regardless of the state of the world we can feel at peace because the fruit of peace comes from Jesus, not from the world. Inward peace is reflected outwardly and allows us to be ambassadors of Jesus’ peace. True peace comes from knowing God is in control. Without that, we feel responsible for things that happen and clamor for answers to our problems.
Sign 4: Patience
Do you know anyone who is patient all the time? If you do, you probably sense that person is trusting in God. Another word for patience some translations use is longsuffering, which means slow to anger or not easily provoked. The fruit of patience is displayed when a person has the Holy Spirit living in his or her heart. The Holy Spirit longs for the opportunity to display the fruit of patience to the world through Christians.
Have you ever heard someone say, “he flies off the handle?” Is he or she a witness to the world of God’s patience and longsuffering? Of course not. A great witness to others would include patience, which would have people ask, “How do you deal with that so calmly? Doesn’t that just make you want to scream?” No believer wants to scream as a response to the behavior of others unless he or she is not filled with the Holy Spirit and the love of God. Without patience, you may find yourself intolerant and impatient, anxious to correct the behavior of others.
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Do You Bear Fruit? Sign 5: Kindness
Probably the second verse you learned in church was Ephesians 4:32. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Kindness is important to live in this world as you build relationships. Even toddlers playing with blocks hear their parents say, “Be kind” as they teach the child how to share their toys. As your children get older the concept of kindness expands to include being kind even to those who are not kind to you.
Have you ever heard the expression “Kill them with kindness?” The idea is that even though someone may not be kind to you, if you continue to be kind to them, they will eventually be touched by your kindness, see the benefit, and want to be kind like you are. This opens the door for you to share Jesus’ love with them. Unless you are kind to others, you will be seen as unkind, unforgiving, and bitter. People are drawn to kindness. So do your best to draw others to you so you in turn can draw them to the Savior.
Sign 6: Goodness
Goodness is somewhat similar to kindness. However, we may look at goodness as the fruit that encompasses moral goodness and integrity. Goodness, like kindness is seen on the outside in the behavior of an individual. Goodness reflects the commitment to God and to sharing His love with others. Often we hear someone say, “God is good,” and the response of those around is “All the time.” This is a true statement. God is indeed good all the time. Unless your life reflects the goodness of God, you may be seen as unkind, bad, unloving, or other negative behaviors, even very selfish. Fill your life with God’s Word and let His goodness flow from your heart.
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Sign 7: Faithfulness
Most churches regularly sing songs of God’s faithfulness. But what is faithfulness as a fruit of the Spirit? The word faithfulness means trusting in something. When we look at faithfulness as a fruit of the Spirit, we apply that trust and belief in God. If we are faithful to Him, we share His love with others and also act in accordance with His principles. Reading God’s Word is important to faithfulness to Him. Unless we know His precepts, we can’t be faithful to them.
Unless we possess and practice this fruit of the Spirit, we may feel guilt in not following God’s laws. Faithfulness requires us to display characteristics of the other fruits. Trusting in all the attributes of God allows us to display our faithfulness to Him. If we find ourselves doing otherwise, we could fall prey to the dangers of not displaying God’s fruit.
Sign 8: Gentleness
Another word for gentleness is meekness, not a common word in our culture but one most people understand. Some might regard meekness as a weak attribute. However, gentleness and meekness are both necessary in keeping peace in the body of Christ. Instead of being a sign of weakness, gentleness actually indicates great strength. Jesus spoke of meekness in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5:5 says “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” God must think meekness is really important to state that the inheritance of the meek is the earth. Unless you are gentle or meek, you may find yourself having trouble controlling your emotions and reactions. Someone who is gentle has the opportunity to touch many people’s lives by their calm, loving manner. The fruit of gentleness is important and one you want to cultivate.
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Do You Bear Fruit? Sign 9: Self-control
The last fruit Paul mentions in Galatians is self-control. For many that is one of the hardest to let go and let grow. Self-control means you release your own ideas and feelings even when you think they are better than others. A good example of someone exercising self-control is athletes. They work hard to bring their bodies under certain parameters even though it may mean, hard work, sacrifice, and hours devoted to doing what a coach tells them to. The way they do this is to keep their eyes focused on the goals they hope to achieve. As believers, our training is to “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
Unless a believer practices self-control, he or she will be seen as selfish, pushy, overassertive, and insensitive to the needs of others. Continue your training for the prize for which God has called you. Don’t ignore the fruit of self-control. Allow it to equip you to press on and say “yes” to practice the needed skills to achieve your calling. We are called to be Christlike and live as Jesus’ ambassadors here on earth. The fruit of the spirit is the character of Jesus Christ that lives in our hearts. Bearing fruit for the kingdom is just as relevant today as it was when Jesus spoke about it. And even though we may not think of ourselves as fruit, we need to realize the fruit is the sweet result of our planting, the part that others will recognize.
John 15 says Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Without staying attached to the vine, we cannot bear fruit. John 15:5 states, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” So stay attached to the vine so that you will bear much fruit thereby showing others our love for God.
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