I love fruit. I could eat it all day long – guilt free, might I add – and there aren’t too many fruits I don’t like. Sweet and juicy, refreshing. Fruit is definitely one of God’s gifts to us (I can only imagine how good it tasted in the Garden). But I do not like vegetables. As a matter of fact, most of the vegetables I like probably aren’t really vegetables at all. They are really more of a starch, but they grow out of the ground, so I feel like they classify as a vegetable. I mean, I have to have something to work with here.
This really makes me think about my life. When others see my life and how I treat them, is it sweet and refreshing or does it seem more like something your mom is forcing you to eat so you can get up from the table?
And just like walking is an outward action designed for others to see, so is bearing fruit. In many ways, that fruit becomes the evidence that we are working and walking with the Lord. If we are not bearing good fruit, then we are not walking with God. I mean, just go back to some of my favorite verses, John 15. What does it say will happen to the branches that don’t bear fruit? They will be cut off and thrown into the fire. It tells us the same thing in Matthew 3:10. (And I don’t think the saying we will be thrown into the fire is just a metaphor, if you know what I mean…) If we go back to our focus scriptures for this month, Colossians 1:10 says “so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;” If we are walking with God and we are pleasing Him, then we are bearing good fruit.
So what is our fruit and how do we bear it? (This question could be answered over several blog post, so I am just going to hit the high points today to get us in the right direction.)
First, our fruit is bore through our attitude.
Galatians 5:22 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control.” Did you notice something? Yep, all these have to do with our attitude. And again in Ephesians 4:2-3 we are told, “ Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Again, this is all about attitude. I know – I probably have some readers out there rolling their eyes – at school I have been called salty, savage, and fiesty, just to name a few. Having a patient, gentle, maybe even humble, attitude is not exactly what I am known for. So I have room for improvement, just like you do. We probably all have weak areas we noticed in the two lists above. Make those a prayer priority. Ask God to show you moments when your fruit starts to sour through your attitude. He will. And we can recognize those moments more easily and then prune that branch.
But to help our attitude, we have got to control our thoughts.
Our attitude is the outward evidence of our inward thoughts. When the scripture tells us to promote unity, but we have spent the morning pining over how we don’t like how a particular person does something, then we are not exactly promoting unity with our thoughts or our attitude. I know those thoughts are going to pop up (the devil won’t let us off that easy), but when they do, we need to immediately bounce them right out of our mind. Don’t let those thoughts find a resting spot in you brain. Get rid of them and then your attitude will improve as well.
If you look earlier on in Galatians 5, before the famous “fruit of the spirit” verse, Paul tells his readers, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other…” With our thoughts and attitude, it is a choice. We choose to walk in the Spirit and reflect the attributes of God himself or we choose to allow the desires of the flesh to rule our minds and look like the rest of the world. I know human nature says we are supposed to stand up for ourselves, we should let others know just what we think, just what they are doing wrong, but is that the desire of Spirit or the desire of the flesh? Is that the way we move on to bearing good fruit or is that a way we feed our own selfish flesh? And really, which of those actions leaves us with the peace of God? Which of those actions leaves us feeling sweet and refreshed, really?
Then, of course, our fruit is bore through our actions.
Yes, attitude and actions go hand in hand, but sometimes we do need to act in the right way in order influence our attitude. You know the whole “fake it ‘til you make it” philosophy. I know it may sound hypocritical when we don’t really feel like demonstrating the love of Christ, but we force ourselves to anyway. Faking those kinds of actions and emotions may seem wrong, but that is just the devil trying to give us one more excuse not to bear good fruit. I bet God would much rather us be serving out of obligation than not at all, and especially not because we didn’t feel like it. God has used our prideful, lazy, selfish human hearts before to do great things, and he will do it again. If we are out serving others, bearing good fruit, then he will soften us. He will open our eyes and hearts. He will change us and give us that love and desire to bear good fruit.
And according the scripture in Colossians, bearing good fruit is a by product of walking with the Lord. So focus on your walk, and the fruit will grow, and I bet it will begin to grow in ways that we couldn’t stop even if we wanted to.
Like it or not, we bear fruit. Sometimes good, sweet, fulfilling fruit and sometimes bitter, sour, rotten fruit, but either way, we are bearing… In order to ensure we bare more good fruit than bad, we have to practice daily. We need to make this a priority. Prayer. Bible study. Walking with the Lord. Bearing good fruit. These are things that bring us joy and fulfillment in life so this is where our focus needs to lie. This is where we need to be practicing, because this is what will make the difference. One day at a time.