|Thanks to +Julie Moore|
The following is a loosely organized summary of a discussion held in the college group I teach. We've been working through a series on the teachings of Jesus and were discussing the concept of spiritual fruit from Matthew 7 this past week.
What is good fruit?
Good fruit is Spirit-produced righteousness, including (but not limited to) moral character traits (external) and God-celebrating heart-attitudes (internal). These are not merely good character traits, but the supernatural result of sanctification -- the natural result of God’s grace at work, progressively transforming your heart and your behavior.
How do we grow good fruit?
- Fruit comes from pursuing relationship with God (John 15.1-5); relationship with God is active and intentional prayer, studying and loving His Word, serving others with gospel-intent (i.e. more than just being kind) (Matt 25.34-40)
- Fruit is the result of the Spirit’s influence (Gal 5.16, 18, 22-24); we have a responsibility to be humble and pliable before the Lord and He will do the work in us; it is He alone who gives the growth
There is a huge difference between working to prove oneself (false, pharisaical, works-based salvation), and surrendering daily to the Lord to work a change in you (true, humble, faith-based salvation). God is the one who does both the growing and the pruning -- He is both the vine from which we grow as well as the vinedresser.
The primary goal is not to grow fruit, it is to glorify God. Fruit is merely the evidence and the result, not the objective itself; we must be focused primarily on God. To be focused on the fruit and not the Father is an idolatrous priority! Hebrews 2.1 teaches that we should “pay much closer attention” to the truth we have learned (Gr. = prosechein perissoteros -- literally, “addicted especially”). In other words, we should OBSESS on, be ADDICTED to the gospel & the person of Jesus Christ. THAT is our goal and our focus. Fruit follows suit.
Why should we grow good fruit?
- a lack of fruit is indicative of an unchanged heart (Matt 7.19; 21-23)
- a lack of fruit correlates to a lack of humility/selflessness (Jas 3.13-18)
- a lack of fruit is an inability to serve others (do good works) (Titus 2.11-14)
- a lack of fruit is an inability to properly worship (Rom 12.1-2)
- producing fruit is the difference between being DEAD and being ALIVE (Eph 2.1-10)
As the fruit is evidence of the health and vigor of the tree, so the believer’s life, attitudes and behavior should reflect the presence of the Holy Spirit. For me to be alive in Christ and not bear fruit is to wither on the vine. Jesus cursed the fig tree for not bearing fruit (Mark 11.12-25); how much more do we squander the grace of God when we fail to grow?
Can fruit be in-progress? Yes! Can fruit be absent? NO.