As we near the end of Jesus earthly ministry we see a Jesus who looks nothing like our Sunday school image of Him. First He cursed a fig tree for having no fruit.
Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again!" And His disciples were listening. - Mark 11:13-14 NASB
Next, He headed down to the temple and wrecked the place.
Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. And He began to teach and say to them, "Is it not written, 'MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE NATIONS'? But you have made it a ROBBERS' DEN." - Mark 11:15-17 NASB
Do you know this Jesus? Can you fathom a Jesus who seems so irrational?
I understand that figs grow before their leaves show up. The fruit grows, then the leaves come to shelter the fruit as it ripens. Jesus found a fig tree with the trappings of fruitful activity—but no fruit.
Then He came to the temple where the religious leaders performed the sacrifices on schedule and the keeping of the law was paramount. It displayed all the trappings of fruitful activity—but no fruit.
How easy it is for us to put on our religious trappings and give the appearance of fruitful activity. When Jesus comes looking for something delicious to eat, something like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control, (Gal. 5:22-23) what does He find in us?
Lord, lead me into a lifestyle that satisfies your appetite for the fruit of the Spirit in me.
And at our gates are pleasant fruits, All manner, new and old, Which I have laid up for you, my beloved.
Song of Songs 7:13 NKJV
As we see life through the eyes of this beautiful bride, we find she welcomes her Husband, the Shepherd King, with pleasant fruit at the gate - both old fruit and new, laid up for her beloved. What a ripe (I couldn’t resist) image this paints.
As they live their life together, and they labor in the fields and gardens before them, she offers fruit to the Lover of her soul. And right there at the gate.
There was a day when her garden was locked. (Song 4:12)
There was a day when the door of her chamber was closed to Him and He bid her open. (Song 5:2)
Today He is welcomed with pleasant fruit, both new and old.
What does this offering of fruit say? How does she welcome the Lord as He returns - or perhaps as they return together. I like that image. She has prepared for their return, and then joined Him in His labor. When they return together, He is welcomed. Notice it is fruit she has laid up for Him. She isn’t scrambling to find something to offer her Lover. She does not have to stir up her devotion in order to draw Him to her worship service. She has an overflow of fruit.
Let’s unpack a bit.
Whats fruit does she offer her beloved?
Let’s start with Isaiah’s prophecy. In Isaiah 5 we read that the Lord planted a vineyard and expected fruit—grapes—and returned to find nothing but wild grapes. He says in explanation:
For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry! - Isaiah 5:7 ESV
Two forms of fruit that please the Lord are justice and righteousness.
We, on our own, will never walk in either, but through the blood of Jesus and the outpouring of His Spirit, He has given a heart that beats for justice, He has given us an appetite for righteousness.
Paul tells us of the fruit of the Spirit—love characterized by joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—fulfilling the Lord’s desire for a people who walk in justice and righteousness. (Galatians 5:22-23)
It’s intrigues me—this call for justice and righteousness—justice would be an outward display of goodness while righteousness would imply an adherence to that which is right in oneself. So in this simple two-fold call, He looks for inner holiness and outward demonstration of love.
He was disappointed with Israel’s fruit offerings. He called them wild grapes. But the fruit the maiden lays up for Him is pleasant.
Another aspect of fruit borne in the life of a believer is the fruit of our lips.
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. - Hebrews 13:15 ESV
I’ve heard someone say they didn’t understand how people can walk into church of a Sunday morning and vault right into full praise and worship mode. This person didn’t get how anyone could immediately be caught up in the presence of the Lord.
And yet the writer to the Hebrews makes it plain that we are exhorted to continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to our God - the fruit of our lips acknowledging His name. If our mouth is constantly offering up praise, we will have an abundance to offer at the gate.
It’s Psalm 100 that tells us:
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! - Psalm 100:4 ESV
Praise and Thanksgiving are in fact the gateway to His presence.
Finally, one more area of fruitfulness in the believer is in those we have brought with us to follow the Shepherd King. Like Philip to Nathanael—there are those to whom we say “I have found the Messiah, come and worship Him with me.”
What offerings of pleasant fruits have you laid up for the Lord? What have you left at the gate of your dwelling to greet Him as He comes?
And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; - John 16:8 NASB
I have heard this used as an excuse for all manner of condemnation – like:
Well – the Holy Spirit’s job is to convict the world of Sin and since He is in me, I need to get busy convicting the world of sin. So I am going to go to the sinners and start convicting them.
This passage does go on to talk in some more detail about what the Spirit will do in the life of a believer, but as I pondered how the Spirit might go about convicting the world of sin, righteousness and judgment, I thought of what Paul said the Spirit would do in the life of a believer.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. - Galatians 5:22-23 NASB
I know I have said this here before, but the word fruit here is a singular noun. From Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words we have this:
…"the fruit of the Spirit," Gal 5:22, the singular form suggesting the unity of the character of the Lord as reproduced in them, namely, "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance," all in contrast with the confused and often mutually antagonistic "works of the flesh." [i]
I like to say the fruit of the Spirit is a love marked by joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
I am convinced that conviction will result as we live Spirit-filled lives, speaking as led by the Spirit and loving in a full-on fruit of the Spirit manner. [Tweet This] Jesus hammered away at the sin He found in the Church leadership – the Pharisees and Priests – but He tended to be more gentle and tender with those trapped in the hold of their unrighteousness. His love was compelling, and the outworking of the Spirit in His life brought many to the place where they were ready when the Church was born and the Spirit poured out at large.
He did not wink at sin, or downplay its dangers, but I believe He was helping get people to a place where they could see and receive the light He had to give. He preached repentance from dead works and faith toward God, and accompanied His preaching with works of compassion and provision.
John 16 goes on to tell us that the Holy Spirit will take what belongs to Jesus and disclose it to us. The basic idea is that filled with the Sprit, we will look like Jesus. As we walk like He walked (1 John 2:6) the world will be convicted of sin, righteousness and judgment.
Have you seen this in your walk? Have you seen your love for someone convict them? I would love to hear about it.
Thanks for stopping by.
See you again soon.
[i] Vine, W. "Dictionaries :: Fruit (Bear), Fruitful, Unfruitful." Blue Letter Bible. Sowing Circle. 24 Jun, 1996. Web. 22 May, 2014. .
So then, you will know them by their fruits. ~ Matthew 7:20
Today, I just want to take a couple minutes and think about the flip side of abiding. We have been talking about how to abide in Christ, how to be plugged in. We looked at the fact that if you are connected to the vine, fruit comes naturally.
I wanted to weave in one final word on fruit today, from Jesus’ parable of the soils.
…the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. ~ Mark 4:19
If walking by the Spirit is how to bear fruit, and it is, then these three bits of ugly will completely undermine all your aspirations to bear Godly fruit. These three life activities demonstrate that you are not abiding, or walking in the Spirit.
Worries of the world
Deceitfulness of riches
Desires of other things
Three (not so) little (not so) white lies our enemy uses to keep us from fruitfulness.
Lie One: You can’t trust God.
Lie Two: God is holding you back.
Lie Three: God is not enough.
Don’t fall for this garbage – There is no safety, no satisfaction, no true joy, outside the place of abiding.
I can tell you from experience, the Christian life without fruit is miserable. Walking through a life marked with worry, greed or lust while trying to pull off Christianity will turn into a life sentence rather than life abundant.
Today, my call to you is: go 'all in', fix your eyes on Jesus, and plug into the vine. [Tweet This]
If bearing spiritual fruit is not some act of strict discipline, what is it?
As I mentioned yesterday the Fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
is not a collection of nine different virtues each standing alone. The word fruit in context is singular, so it should not be read the fruits of the Spirit are love and joy and… It’s more like: The fruit of the apple tree is red, round, sweet, juicy, containing seeds… Do you see what I mean.
So a reading like this might help. The fruit of a life marked by the Spirit’s work in a believer's would be walking in love, full of joy, governed and marked by peace…
It might help to understand that Jesus walked this way. When I read of the life of Jesus, I do not see a man driven by a strict life of discipline, but rather One Who kept connected to the Father because He delighted in the Father.
Doing the will of the Father was not something He struggled with. It was His food – meat no less. Veggies – well – when I was a kid, I had to be reminded, and as an adult sometimes it requires discipline to eat veggies, but meat – well – let me say it this way – you should not stand between me and the fillet.
Hey – I get that we need discipline in our lives. Self-control is actually one of the descriptors of this wonderful fruit your life is becoming.
Fruit grows when connected to the vine. Our job – our only real point of discipline is to stay connected. And frankly, this only requires discipline in the dark and hard times. Most of the time this disciple is more like delight.
Paul is not giving commands or even instructions in Galatians 5:22-23. He is explaining the outcome of a life lived by the one instruction he did give in vs 16 [Tweet This]
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
Get up close to God today – Plug In – and stay plugged in.
And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word (in an honest and good heart) and understands it and accept(s) itand hold(s) it fast; who indeed bears fruit with perseverance, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” (From: Matthew 13: 23, Mark 4:20, Luke 8:15 NASB – see comments below)
So what makes good soil?
1) It can’t be trodden underfoot and packed down like the path. We must allow God to turn the earth and break up the fallow ground. We must submit to the plowing of the Lord.
2) It can’t be full of rocks, and resistant to the sunlight, and must have the ability to take on water. How does a young Christian deal with affliction, persecution and temptation? Here is where the body comes into play.
We must be the body. We must stand together to support and comfort one another. And when I say comfort, I am not talking about patting each other on the hand and feeling sorry. I am talking about the real meaning of the word.
Com = with Fort = Strength.
The Holy Spirit is the One who comes along side us and brings strength – but He often uses the Body to do it. We must stand together in days of loss and sorrow, in days of persecution, and in days of temptation.
3) It can’t be full of thorns. When the enemy rises up with lies that would draw us away from the faith, when riches declare to us that they will protect us and exalt themselves against what we know is the truth, we must hold fast to Jesus, the truth. We must simplify our lives and pull the distractions from our soil.
Let me be honest here. Until I combined these three tellings of this parable, I had no idea there was so much involved in hearing. No wonder Jesus counsels “He who has ears let him hear.
Hearing is an activity, and never passive. Do not think that because you have a preachers voice washing over your ears, that you have heard the voice of the Spirit. You must DO the work of hearing. [Tweet This]
First prepare your heart (I know - I said that already) Is your's an honest heart? Are you honest with your self about the state of your heart. Do you claim (even to yourself) a level of love for the Lord that does not exist in reality? Is your heart wearing a mask that even you can't detect?
Is your heart a good heart? There is none good but God, so a good heart is one where the Lord God resides.
Then you must do what you need to do to understand what you have heard. How does it apply to your life. If the only application you have found is for your spouse or kids or the neighbor who you wish would behave, YOU HAVE NOT HEARD!. He was talking to you.
Then you must accept it– perhaps this will require repentance – course correction, or perhaps a full about-face.
Then you must hold fast to what you have heard. Don’t let the Word spoken to your heart slip away. Hold fast to what the Lord has spoken to you.
Finally you must persevere. Do it every day. Work it, walk it, let it become part of you.
Now get ready for a harvest, a harvest of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. And a harvest of souls, added daily to the kingdom.
I believe this is a year the Lord wants to bring forth a harvest in your life. Will you prepare the soil?
Thanks for coming by.
He who has an ear - let him hear.
* The 3 passages have been interwoven using colors to show which passage each word originates from. I have not added anything, just pulled from the NASB in each case. Red text is from Matthew, green from Mark and blue from Luke.