If someone looked at your life, would they notice that you have changed? That you are a better person then you were before? That your faith has become stronger. One lady I met, explained that she loved the Lord but that she did not feel that she was a bad person and had to make a lot of changes. Another, also believed herself to be a good woman who went to church and that she did not think that progress was such a big issue in our relationship with God.
In any relationship, growing intimacy, is an identifying marker of a growing relationship and spiritual growth is what differentiates the practice of religion from believers who have a personal relationship with God.
When Jesus was walking with his disciples, to Jerusalem (Matt 21), He saw a fig tree in the distance. He walked to it, expecting to find fruit on it. Fig trees take about four to five years before they start to bear fruit, but once they are fruit bearing, they usually produce two crops of fruit and will continue producing fruit for decades.
The first crop is usually produced in spring, around Passover, based on previous year’s growth. It is small and is used for preservation. While the second crop is usually produced in autumn, and comes from the current year’s growth. These are sweet and tasty. In some climates, figs are produced all year round. In this case, if the tree had leaves, it was reasonable to expect to find fruit on the tree.
Jesus cursed the tree, when He did not find fruit.
In Matthew 7:16-20, Jesus warns about false prophets, saying: “By their fruit you will recognise them. Do people pick grapes from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them.”
Therefore, if we can recognize false teachers by their fruit, you can also recognize believers by their fruit.
Matt 12:33 ” ‘Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognised by its fruit.”
Spiritual fruit is described as character traits that are developed in us by the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23); a greater similarity to Christ in likeness (2 Cor 3:18); a greater ability to not conform to the world, but be transformed in our thinking (Rom 12:1-3); becoming more established in the knowledge of Scripture (2 Peter 1:12) and God’s love (Eph 3:17).
In fact we are told by Jesus that the Father: “… cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:2). We are expected to bear fruit and much spiritual fruit. In order to do this, Jesus tells us:
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4
If we know and love Jesus and are growing in or spiritual walk, there should be a greater evidence of spiritual fruit in our lives, which we and others can recognize (Rom 7:4)
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” (John 15:16)
We recognise progress in our spiritual walk by the evidence of spiritual fruit in our lives.
Paul, prays for the Colossians that they may know God more in their understanding, with the help of the Holy Spirit, so that:”…you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…” (Col 1:10)
If there is no evidence of spiritual fruit in our lives, then we have to understand that we are spiritually dead. We know how Jesus felt about trees that fail to produce fruit, and as the vineyard keeper, He gives us time to start producing fruit in our lives.
Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig-tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, “For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig-tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?”
‘“Sir,” the man replied, “leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig round it and fertilise it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.”’ (Luke 13:6-8)
How is your spiritual fruit? Are you growing in your love relationship with God, or have you become stagnant and fruitless?
Thank you, Father, for your love that grows inside of me as I read Your Word and remain sensitive to the Spirit. Thank you that You are constantly working on me, on my heart, so that I will produce fruit in this life. Fruit that lasts. Forgive me for the times I have been unproductive, and not focused on my relationship with you, growing in this relationship and becoming more fruitful in my life. Help me to make a new start, and seek You out, draw near to You.