“You shall know them by their fruits.”
I spent a few minutes in Matthew today. The recorded words of the Master make me giggle and cringe from one moment to the next:
Judge not, that you be not judged. . .
Remove the speck from your own eye. . .
Ask and it will be given to you. . .
. . . how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
Winding my way through His words (how narrow they are!), the verses about the false prophets caught me:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. (Matthew 7:15-17)
What are the fruits of the spirit? I wondered. I used to know them by heart, having memorized them as a child. But, knowing them by heart, and doing them from the heart are completely different things.
But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Against such there is no law.
I won’t speak of the leaders of today, christian or not, in high power or low, but I can look in my heart and see what kind of fruit is being produced.
If I picture my heart as an orchard, what kind of fruit do I see? Our little peach tree in the front yard produced it’s first peaches this year. In our excitement, we cut them open thinking they were ready. But, the first thing that we noticed was the lack of juice. A good peach splashes on everything because of it’s rich juiciness. These were rubbery. The fruit wasn’t good, not because the tree was bad, but because it was young. The tree had not matured enough to produce a juice-filled peach.
Am giving away fruit that isn’t ready to be eaten because I haven’t reached maturity in certain areas of my life?
I think of my children and how we have spent the entire summer together. There have been some beautiful, imaginative, fun-filled moments. The lights dance in their eyes. Laughter flows like a brook breaking new ground. The joy. . . it’s impossible to miss. I picture them grabbing up this fruit with glee. This is the stuff that will feed their souls, and oh, how they eat it up!
And, there’s been those moments where I’ve dropped the ball. I listened to the flesh instead of the spirit. The fruit was bitter and we all walked away with sick hearts and stomachs.
Too often, I think that my outward works are what makes up my Christian life. There are tons of things that I can do to look good in the Christian community. But, Jesus talks about that too, and His words always shake me:
“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.’ ”
My life with Christ is truly a hidden treasure. I can bemoan the fact that I’m not more “in front” of the world, doing more for the kingdom, or I can sit with Jesus and be submissive to the work that He’s doing in my heart. When I bear fruit born of the spirit, it is good and sweet, full of juice, without a trace of self-righteousness. If it has the spirit’s label on it, then I am doing the work that Jesus has called me too. If it has a different label, then I need to come back to Him and check where my sources are coming from.
What is your fruit saying about your heart today? Walk with the Father. Turn the gardening tools over to Him. Watch what He can produce in you!