The Fruit of the Believer
Growth is a normal part of life. If growth doesn't happen, we know something is wrong. For instance, if a twenty-five-year-old came home and went, "Dada!" like a little baby, you'd be appalled. You don't expect children to stay children -- you expect them to grow up.
As we grow older, we mature, and in our spiritual lives, we should become spiritually mature. The Bible calls it being fruitful. Spiritual fruit is the indication that we're truly connected to Christ. In John chapter 15, Jesus used the metaphor of fruit growing on a grape vine to describe Christian growth. "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.... Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 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 15:1, 4-5). Spiritual fruit has three characteristics: it's noticeable, natural, and nourishing.
First of all, fruit is noticeable. If you walk by a plant, you can tell it's a grapevine if it has a bunch of what? Grapes. You don't need an advanced degree in botany to determine that. And so it is spiritually. You don't have to guess if a person is a believer or not. Though the output of fruit will vary from person to person (see Matthew13:8), there has to be something at some point that identifies a person as a believer.
What is the fruit Jesus was talking about? "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). These things should mark your life as a follower of Christ. There are other things the Bible calls fruit: people you win to Christ (see Romans 1:13), holy living (see Romans 6:22), giving (see Romans 15:26-28), and praise (see Hebrews 13:15). All of these things are the visible manifestation and demonstration that spiritual growth is taking place.
Second, fruit is natural. A fruit tree doesn't have to work hard to produce fruit; it's just a natural unfolding of life. All you need is a root system in the ground, a trunk tied to the root system, and branches connected to that main stem, and fruit will happen. It's the product of a connection. What does a branch need to do to produce fruit? Just hang in there. What do you need to do to produce fruit? Just hang in there. Abide in Christ. The natural result of being connected to and abiding in Christ is growth and fruit.
The third thing about fruit is that it's nourishing. Fruit trees don't produce fruit for themselves; fruit is produced to nourish and bless other people. If the life of God is flowing in you, then the life of God will flow through you and from you, and this is where life gets exciting. Some of you have gotten bored in your Christian experience, and I would venture to say that's because it's all been inward up to this point. The real excitement is when you start looking outward and see that what Christ produces through your life can actually nourish other people.
I love how Jacob described his son Joseph. "Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall" (Genesis 49:22, NIV). He was saying, "My son is so fruitful that he just doesn't stay confined; he blesses people outside of where he's at. His branches go over the wall."
That's fruit: It's noticeable. It's natural. It's nourishing. Take a moment today to examine your walk with the Lord, and ask Him to help you abide in Jesus Christ that you may bless others and be fruitful in Him.
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