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REFLECTION: Fruitfulness

What God seeks in a believer…..

 

The subject of fruitfulness is an important one in Scripture. Although a number of passages deal specifically with fruitfulness, numerous brief references to it are found scattered throughout the Word of God. So often in life we find that the physical realm can teach us lessons relating to the spiritual realm. Consider how frequently the Lord Jesus used an illustration from nature to present spiritual truths. Fruitfulness is a prime example of this. 

 

If someone familiar with the Bible were to be asked to identify passages of Scripture dealing with fruitfulness, several well-known texts would no doubt come to mind. There is “the fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5, as well as the Lord’s discourse on the vine in John 15. Then there is Psalm 1, which compares the godly man to a fruitful tree, while Colossians 1:10 refers to being fruitful in every good work. In Hebrews we read of “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” (12:11) and of “the fruit of our lips” (13:15). These are just a few of the many references to fruit in Scripture.

 

 

TWO OUTSTANDING PRINCIPLES

There are two outstanding principles to note at this stage. The first relates to the purpose of fruit-bearing. Fruit-bearing must never be a selfish activity. God did not create the apple tree to bear fruit for its own pride or pleasure. Neither was it God’s intention that it simply be admired for its enormous crop of fruit. The primary object of fruit-bearing is that the crop may be shared. We might say that the exercise is intended to be helpful. If the apples are not picked, they will simply rot and fall to the ground.

 

 

In Nehemiah 9:25 we read of God’s people of old enjoying so many of His blessings, including “fruit trees in abundance”, but doing so selfishly. They enjoyed the produce of the vineyards and oliveyards, but they “became fat” in the process. In effect, it did them no good. Indulgence resulted in laziness. It was rather like Israel in Hosea 10:1, a nation which was “an empty vine”, bringing forth “fruit unto himself”. Corresponding with the increase in fruit was an increase in idolatry. The fruit in this case was for Israel’s own selfish ends, contradicting the purpose of God. The Old Testament Law made it abundantly clear that the Lord was to receive His portion first. Exodus 22:29 stresses the need for the first of the ripe fruits to be offered to the Lord. These “first fruits” (as they were known) were exclusively for the Lord. Every time Israel fulfilled this part of the Law, the people taught themselves a very important object lesson. By offering to God His portion, they were reminding themselves that the harvest came from Him.

 

 

The second principle relates to the condition of the tree or plant. In order for fruit to be produced, the tree or plant bearing the fruit must be in a healthy condition. “The root of the righteous yieldeth fruit” (Prov.12:12). That which is righteous, in Scripture, is good and right. Thus the root which is “right” and healthy is the one which can be fruitful. There is a distinct connection between being right and acting in obedience. Israel, in Old Testament times, was promised a fruitful land which they could enjoy in complete safety. But the promise was not unconditional – like a blank cheque. All hinged upon Israel’s obedience and faithfulness. “Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety.” It was only by Israel’s obedience that the people would enjoy the fruit of the land, as we see in Leviticus 25:18,19.

 

 

DIVINE RESOURCES

We cannot bear fruit when we allow our lives to become spiritually dry. We need the divine resources which have been made available to us. In addition to this, our spiritual health must be maintained if we are to be effective for our Lord in this world. Fruit-bearing is not a pain-free experience, but the bearing of fruit will prove that we belong to the Lord. Are we ready to face the challenge? May the Lord help us to live lives that are fruitful for His glory and pleasure.