Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Producing Good Fruit for the Kingdom of God

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.  Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  -Matthew 12:33, 34 (NKJV) 

Just in case you hadn’t noticed, we are now in the season of the year where maintaining a healthy diet is extremely difficult.  Already I have friendly and well-intentioned people holding before me various pies, cakes, cookies, fudge, and other sweets.  I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so I go ahead and eat some those delicious desserts.  I suppose we could all serve carrot sticks and apple slices with our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners this year, but that would be admittedly boring and when word got out, well, no one would probably show up.   

Speaking of apple slices, there is a healthy snack for us.  We are always better off reaching for an apple or an orange than a piece of cake or a bowl of ice cream.  When I think of good fruit I cannot help but think about the apple trees that grow along the driveway between the parsonage and our neighbor’s home.  My neighbor and I have had many discussions about these apple trees, yet we have never done anything with them.  For years the trees, about four of them, have never been tended. As a result, the fruit they bear is never very good.  Every year the apples that grow are small, blemished, and sour, and the only ones who enjoy them are the deer that feast on them in the night.  I imagine that if we were to tend those trees we might be able to get them to produce some good fruit.  

The Lord Jesus drew a similar comparison to us as His followers.  Jesus said that we are like trees that can bear either good or bad fruit.  If we allow our faith to grow dormant and untended the result will be unusable fruit for the kingdom of God.  However, when we seek the Lord, walk in faith, pray, study and meditate daily on the Word, and humble ourselves before God, the result will be spiritual growth and spiritual fruit.  As the Lord said, “A tree is known by its fruit.”  Part of the high call of God in Christ Jesus is to bear fruit for the kingdom of God.  That fruit can be seen in us as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).  As these Christ like qualities flow from us, we will reach out to others in Jesus’ name.   

What sort of fruit are you producing for God’s kingdom?  Make sure it’s fresh and usable.  Stand firm and pray that the Lord will empower you to produce spiritual fruit that will energize your witness and demonstrate to others that Jesus is working in your life.  Such abundance will produce an overflow of praise to God. 

Praise the name of the Lord!

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