It seems that bearing fruit is something important to God, so much so that Jesus said that our bearing fruit glorifies the Father.
“When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”
John 15:8 NLT
If fruit-bearing is so important to God, then we should know and understand what the Bible means by “fruit-bearing”.
SEED PRODUCES NEW LIFE
First, God’s Word is a seed. Therefore, any fruit we bear in our lives must come from the seed that has been sown in our hearts.
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word.”
Luke 8:11 NLT
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”
Isaiah 55:10-11 NLT
God’s Word produces the “new birth”, therefore, the first fruit we bear is the new life that comes from believing the Good News about Jesus and what He has done for us.
“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”
1 Peter 1:23 NIV
Hearing the message about Jesus gives birth to faith in our hearts, and begins the process of bearing fruit in our lives.
“So, faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.”
Romans 10:17 NLT
New life in Christ, then, is the first shoot that grows from the seed of God’s Word. However, every plant, every tree, doesn’t grow for the sake of growing. It grows to produce fruit in which the next generation of seed forms to reproduce itself.
So it is with the believer. New birth is not static. Like a newborn baby, it needs food and time to grow, mature, and reproduce. Therefore, we desire God’s Word, and Jesus, the Living Word, and we satisfy these desires by feeding on God’s Word .
“But Jesus told him (Satan), “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4 NLT
SEED REQUIRES NOURISHMENT TO GROW
However, to return to the metaphor of a seed, without the correct soil and nourishment, the new seedling will die. For the seed to germinate, grow, mature, and bear fruit, it must have sunshine, water, and nutrients, and a weed-free environment in which to flourish.
So, for the spiritual fruit that God desires in our lives, we must provide the environment for growth. We do this by nourishing the soil of our hearts with right living, right company, right spiritual food, and an environment free of ungodly company and temptation to do wrong.
How do we keep our hearts pure?
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.
John 15:1-3 NLT
Again, Jesus provides the answer in the metaphor of the vine.
Remaining in Him as a branch is attached to the vine keeps the life of the vine flowing through the branches. His life in us overshadows the pull of the flesh and keeps moving us towards maturity.
NEW LIFE PRODUCES FRUIT
The purpose of new life is to grow into a mature plant that will produce fruit in which seed will grow. Fruit nourishes the present generation while the seed in the fruit produces the next generation. So, the cycle of life continues.
FRUIT REVEALS THE NATURE OF THE SEED
Fruit is the delicious, edible part of the plant which identifies the plant’s nature.
“Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”
Matthew 7:20 NLT
Just as fruit is the expression of the tree’s nature, so our mouths reveal the nature of our hearts. Out of our mouths comes the evidence of what’s inside.
“A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad…. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.
Matthew 12:33, 35 NLT
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Proverbs 18:21 NIV
FRUIT HIDES THE SEED OF THE NEXT GENERATION
The final purpose for fruit-bearing is to produce the seeds that will reproduce the plant. What the plant or tree is, the new plant will become, and so, when the tree or plant has finished its work and dies, it will not be lost.
How wonderfully God illustrates spiritual truth in the natural world! Jesus often used parables about nature to teach His disciples the deeper truths of His life in them.
Two lessons emerge from this metaphor regarding fruit-being.
1. The character of the believer – the fruit of the Spirit in him/her.
Since the fruit reveals the nature of the tree, what kind of fruit grows in the lives of those who are connected to the True Vine?
Paul answers the question in Galatians 5:22-23.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
Galatians 5:22-23 NLT
Since God’s focus is always on people and relationships, the Spirit produces fruit in us that fosters loving and harmonious relationships in three directions….
With God – love, joy, peace – Jesus’s legacy to His disciples before He died (read John 14 to 16).
God’s love is an unconditional guarantee that nothing can ever happen in our lives that He has not filtered through His love for us. We can be so sure of that love that we rest in the security that He is working, in all things, for our good.
The Holy Spirit pours God’s love into us so that we, in turn, can love Him and His people with the love He has for us.
Living in the love of God produces such joy and peace that we are free to worship Him in everything we do with continuing thankfulness.
“And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”
Colossians 3:15 NLT
“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
Colossians 3:17 NLT
“You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.”
1 Peter 1:8 NLT
With others – patience, kindness, goodness…
Harmonious relationships with one another depend on attitudes that reflect God’s nature in us. God gave us His nature and the potential to live it out, through His promises.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV
When we are patient, kind, and good to others especially when they treat us badly, we are displaying God’s nature and grace working through us.
With ourselves – faithfulness, meekness, and self-control…
These are qualities that show to what extent we have control over our old sinful nature. Where selfishness still reigns, the old nature still dominates. There is an ongoing war between flesh and spirit. With the Holy Spirit’s help we are to kill the works of the flesh.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.”
Romans 8:12-14 NLT
… We are evidencing the Spirit’s work in us.
With these attributes of God reigning in our hearts…
With harmonious relationships with people around us – patience, kindness, goodness – the qualities that smooth conflicts and make friends of enemies.
With peace in ourselves – faithfulness, gentleness (meekness), self-control – the qualities in our relationship with ourselves that rein in the flesh by dying to self and being led by the Spirit.
…we bear witness to God’s life in us.
2. The reproduction of the life of Jesus in others – the fruit from him/her.
It is the fruit of of character and harmonious relationships that alerts unbelievers to the supernatural work of the Lord in us.
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
John 13:35 NLT
“I am in them, and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
John 17:23 NLT
The love and unity that exists in God’s family can never be reproduced in the world where selfishness reigns.
So, this is the place where the two kinds of fruit come together. Without the witness of the character of Jesus being formed in us, our witness to the world will be empty of truth. The life of Jesus becomes real to others when they witness it at work in us.
Bearing fruit, like the branch in union with the vine, requires no effort on our part but the “effort” of remaining in union with Jesus. His life is us through the Holy Spirit, as we live by the Spirit, will mature us in our character, freeing us from the power of sin and molding us into the image of Jesus.