A few months ago I planted six small tomato plants in our greenhouse and now they are touching the roof, full of ripening fruit. With regular watering, occasional feeding and cutting off unwanted shoots they are doing what they are meant to do: bearing fruit.
Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
The Israelites went in search of a fruitful land ‘flowing with milk and honey’. Jesus wants his followers to go in search of fruitful lives: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” It’s simple, isn’t it, the key to a successful life: stay connected to Jesus, and be fruitful.
So what is the fruit of our lives that the bible talks about? St Paul described the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ – nine characteristics of a Spirit-filled life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Who would not want that fruit in their lives? It takes time to grow – just as my tomatoes have taken several months. But if we are connected to Jesus through his Spirit that spiritual fruit will begin to grow and ripen on our lives.
Paul talks about the ‘fruit of righteousness’: the fruit that comes from a right relationship with God, justified and forgiven through faith in Christ. He talks about ‘bearing fruit in every good work’, that is the fruit of actively doing good to others, and the fruit of sharing the gospel so that the church grows numerically. And the writer to the Hebrews speaks about ‘the fruit of lips that confess God’s name’ – that is the fruit that comes from speaking out words of praise and worship.
On October 2nd we will celebrate our Harvest Festival in church, thanking God for the fruit of the earth, but at any time of year we can be looking for a fruitful harvest in our own lives, and when we see growth – or others see it in us – it’s something we can thank God for. We are made to bear fruit: “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”