A Fruit of the Spirit - Abundant Fresh Fruit: To Serve God and Share With Others

You are here

A Fruit of the Spirit - Abundant Fresh Fruit

To Serve God and Share With Others

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up


Right in my own back yard is an Italian plum tree. I consider it a huge blessing! When we first moved here, I had no idea what kind of tree it was until I saw the fruit! Likewise, we are known to God and to other people by our "fruits" (Matthew 7:16).

Our tree is not very pretty except when it's covered with spring blossoms. But what counts is this: It is fruitful. In most years it produces prolifically!

Two things give me great satisfaction. One is the delightful taste. When those plums are ripe, they're soft and juicy and sweet and "plum good." I feast on them for weeks!

My other joy is giving plums to others. Almost everyone loves this fabulous fruit! I spend hours and hours trying to harvest all the plums to give them away. I give away many hundreds of these large plums—to neighbors, fellow Church members and food banks. What a treat for me to see all the smiles!

Lessons from fruit trees

Jesus Christ compared His followers to fruit trees. This comparison can teach us many valuable lessons.

To begin with, most fruit trees are relatively small and unimpressive compared to other trees. Most of us, likewise, are not that much to look at.

But that's okay. It's not outward beauty but inward beauty that "is very precious in the sight of God" (1 Peter 3:3-4). God doesn't judge us by "outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7, emphasis added throughout).

Just as a "good tree" is one that bears "good fruit," a good heart is one that produces good spiritual fruit (Matthew 7:17).

The "beauty" of fruit trees is their bountiful production of luscious fruit. Likewise, we are beautiful to God when we are producing good fruit and much fruit (Matthew 7:17; John 15:5, 8). God wants quality and quantity!

Those two goals and related principles were explained in the introductory article for this series—"Christ's Command to Us: Bear Good Fruit and Much Fruit" in the January-February 2008 issue.

Every man's need: A spiritual heart transplant

But there's a problem that prevents us from producing good fruit. The natural "heart"—the thinking and inclination—of man is not good! Jesus said that "out of the heart of men" proceed a long list of evils (Mark 7:20-23).

When the apostle Paul listed typical sins of the natural man, he called them "works of the flesh" (Galatians 5:19-21).

Then Paul listed the main traits of God's character that are grown in us when we are implanted with His Spirit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). That is good fruit!

Most people manifest some of these virtues some of the time. But a person's character will never be consistently defined by these qualities until he or she has God's Holy Spirit.

In fact, all true "goodness, righteousness, and truth" is "the fruit [result and effect] of the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:9).

Some people bear fake fruit

Sadly, we are tempted to be more concerned about looking good and sounding good than in being good. We want to make a good impression without doing all that is necessary to acquire a pure and godly heart. This is just fake fruit!

But we can't fool God. Jesus saw right through the pretense of the self-righteous hypocrites of His day. He condemned them for that, saying, "You also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness" (Matthew 23:28).

And besides guarding against fake fruit in ourselves, God tells us to watch out for it in others. He doesn't want us to be fooled. The Bible repeatedly cautions us to beware of religious deception. Jesus warned, "Beware of false prophets [teachers and preachers], who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits"—by their actions over time (Matthew 7:15-16).

Beware of impressive people with empty promises. They are like "clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit" (Jude 1:12).

Our best protection is to know the Bible. It alone has absolute authority because it is God's revelation. Don't be swayed by eloquent speeches or sermons that don't agree with God's Word. That fruit is polluted with poison!

But again, we must first be aware of what usually deceives us the most—our own minds and hearts! "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9, New American Standard Bible).

Here is what God prescribes for that sickness: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26).

Remember that Jesus said, "Make a tree good and its fruit will be good" (Matthew 12:33, New International Version). Likewise, when God gives us a new heart, our spiritual fruit will be good.

"Make the tree good and its fruit will be good"

Do you see? The whole tree must be healthy to produce lots of good fruit. Likewise, we must become spiritually healthy and whole. We must be healed with a heart transplant that results in total transformation and conversion.

God gives us a new heart by implanting His "Spirit in our hearts" so that our human nature is gradually replaced with His godly nature (2 Corinthians 1:22).

How does God accomplish this? When God starts working with someone, He begins to give the person spiritual understanding of the Bible (1 Corinthians 2:10-14).

Then, through that understanding, "the goodness of God leads you to repentance" (Romans 2:4). What is repentance? It is the experience of beginning to see one's own sins and feeling deeply sorry for them

(2 Corinthians 7:9-10). It also means committing to turn one's life around—from a life of disobeying God to a life of love, obedience and service to God—and striving to follow through (Ezekiel 18:30-32).

Once a person has faith in God and is sincerely repentant, he or she should have an intense desire to obtain two of God's great gifts—the gift of forgiveness and the gift of God's Spirit.

The apostle Peter explained how to receive these gifts. He said, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [forgiveness] of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

When Peter said "be baptized," everyone knew he meant immersion in water. Baptism symbolizes putting to death and burying the old way of life and being raised to "newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

The subject of God's Holy Spirit, with its many benefits and how to obtain it, was explained in the second article of this series—"God's Spirit: The Power to Transform Your Life."

Good works are also the fruit of godly character

Only God can make a tree, and He deserves the credit for the fruit. But God calls us to work, not just watch.

We must work hard in partnership with Him to cultivate the fruit! And good fruit includes good works. We show our love for God by works of obedience and service!

Forgiveness and salvation certainly can't be earned by human works, but "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20). We are to "maintain good works" so we will be "profitable" to God and to others and not "unfruitful" (Titus 3:8, Titus 3:14).

Good intentions, thoughts, feelings and words are not enough. We must be "doers of the word, and not hearers only" (James 1:22). Christ "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38), and we should follow His example.

We must walk the walk and practice what we preach. We must do more than profess—we must produce!

However, words are important too. The "fruit of our lips" is a big part of our works, and God holds us accountable for our words (Hebrews 13:15; Matthew 12:36).

Jesus said, "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works" (Matthew 16:27). We will be judged by how we live—either stirring up and using the Spirit God makes available to us, or neglecting it.

The great harvest

Jesus likened Himself to a master gardener who hopes for a bountiful harvest. But He also warned, "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (Matthew 7:19). It is cut down because the one who had access to God's Spirit failed to produce fruit.

He went on to explain that religious works will not save you if you don't also have the works of obedience to God's commandments: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:21-23).

At a later time, Christ described the great spiritual harvest when He "will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire . . . Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" (Matthew 13:41-43).

When Christ returns, may you not be counted as an "unprofitable [unfruitful] servant" (Matthew 25:30). Instead, may you hear the joyful words, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:23).

In conclusion

As part of the conclusion for this series on the fruit of the Spirit, we encourage you to reread the wonderful 15th chapter of the book of John (John 15:1-27). In it, Jesus is talking heart to heart with His disciples—and heart to heart with you.

He tells us: "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 15:5).

When the life-giving Spirit flows from Christ into you and through you, it produces much good fruit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

And when you have much fruit, you experience the joy of giving it away to others!