Bearing Fruit: A Crucial Part of Spiritual Growth

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God expects us to be productive and get results.

God expects us to be productive and get results. In some parables, spiritual accomplishment is compared to investing and earning a profit for our Master (Matthew:25:14-30; Luke:19:11-27). In some biblical passages it is compared to constructing a building or temple (1 Corinthians:3:9-17; Ephesians:2:19-22).

But the Bible's main metaphor for accomplishment is producing fruit. God compares His people with fruit trees that must "bear much fruit" (John:15:5,8). We must continue to grow and bear fruit until the end of our lives.

Christ's parable of the fig tree emphasizes that, spiritually speaking, a fruitless fruit tree is worthless (Luke:13:6-9). "A certain man . . . said to the keeper of his vineyard, 'Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?' But he answered and said to him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down'" (verses 7-9).

The parable tells us that God expects us to bear fruit. But it also shows that God will not give up on us as long as there is still hope that we will bear fruit.

Also take note that just as a branch will die when it is cut off from a vine or trunk, we will die spiritually if we are cut off from Jesus Christ. "Abide in Me, and I in you," He tells us. "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me . . . for without Me you can do nothing" (John:15:4-5).

This is why contact with and becoming a part of God's true Church is so crucial. As head of that Church (Colossians:1:18), Jesus Himself guides and directs the spiritual growth of all those who submit to His leading (Ephesians:4:11-16). As the "pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy:3:15), the Church is the source of correct understanding and teaching of His instruction. It is also a source of much-needed encouragement and exhortation to not abandon the race, but to continue growing (Hebrews:10:25).

The parable of the sower teaches us four different ways that people respond when they hear (receive the "seed" of) the truth of God (Luke:8:4-15). Each of us should read this parable occasionally and examine ourselves as to which category or categories we fall into. We need to be in the fourth group—the fertile soil. "The seeds that fell in good soil stand for those who hear the message and retain it in a good and obedient heart, and they persist until they bear fruit" (verse 15, Good News Bible).

What kind of fruit does God expect of us? "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians:5:22-23, NIV). God also desires the fruits of good works and service to others (Titus:3:14; Matthew:5:14-16; 25:31-46). Beautiful and desirable fruit, indeed!

Stay healthy and strong spiritually, keep growing and bear much fruit! GN

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