Tag Archives: fruit of the spirit

Fruit on a naked branch

Fruit? Or Roots?

A three-minute read

Fruit is a big topic in Christian circles.

John the Baptist may have dined on locusts and wild honey, but he also knew a bit about fruit. He encouraged the religious leaders of his day to ‘bear fruit worthy of repentance,’ warning them that ‘every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’ 1

Jesus also used fruit metaphors. False prophets? You will know them by their fruit. Every good tree bears good fruit. But a corrupt tree bears evil fruit. Like John the Baptist, he warned that ‘every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruit you will know them.’ 2

The Apostle Paul outlines the nature of this good fruit, produced by Holy Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control.3

But these fruits don’t prosper on their own.

Jesus likened Himself to a vine, and his disciples to branches. ‘He who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit’, He said. ‘For without Me you can do nothing.’ 4

So, now I know what the fruit is, and the ways in which it manifests in my life, through my relationship with the Holy Spirit. And since, without Jesus, I can do nothing, by myself I bear no fruit. I have nothing to do with it. Or do I?

I think I do. When I think about how I represent Jesus to others it’s easy to focus on the fruit, and neglect the roots. That’s the key to my part in the story.

A fruit tree only produces fruit if it has the right conditions. It needs to be planted in solid ground so the roots can hold it firmly in place. The soil needs to be good, so the nutrients are there.5 It also needs water to give it life. It needs light for photosynthesis so it can feed itself, and grow and flourish.

It also needs time. Only after these conditions have been in place consistently for some time will a tree produce fruit for others to enjoy.

Just like the tree, I’ll produce authentic ‘fruit’ only if my ‘roots’ are in the right place. I need to plant myself in God’s word – good soil. I need Holy Spirit to pour His living water into my own spirit as I listen to him each day. I need to surrender in obedience to Jesus, the light of the world, who guides me day by day with his easy yoke.

To produce fruit, I don’t need to focus on the fruit, but on the One who produces the fruit, after my roots are set in place.

I also don’t need to count the fruit, I trust that it will be there. And I have learned that it’s there to nourish others.

How are your roots? What kind of soil are they planted in?

From a teaching by Melanie Searle

1. Matthew 3:8, 10
2. Matthew 3:7:16-19
3. Galatians 5:22
4. John 15:5
5. Mark 4:20

Hands

Coming Together

(A six minute read – part of a year-long series on the Ministry of Reconciliation)

Reconciliation (noun) /ˌrek.ənˌsɪl.iˈeɪ.ʃən/: The process of making two opposite beliefs, ideas or situations agree.

It’s easy to pass this word off as only relevant for person-to-person conflict. Something done after a war, or a genocide, or when a business partnership goes bad. Perhaps it’s a January response to that ugly political discussion at the holiday dinner table.

Reconciliation is much more

Reconciliation is much, much bigger than that. It’s about charting new courses for ourselves. It’s about listening to one another. It’s about being willing to reserve judgment. It’s about wanting to be nice. It’s about healing. Ultimately, its about forgiveness. More on that in a moment.

The Bible says that, as a Christian, I’ve been given the ‘ministry of reconciliation.’ What is that? It means my purpose here is to bring love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control into all I do. Those are the tools in my tool-kit for building reconciliation among estranged parties.

The Biblical word for reconciliation in the Greek is katallagē (καταλλαγή), which means restoration to favor.

It comes from the root word katallassō (καταλλάσσω), which means to change mutually.

See the connection? Mutual change is an adjustment you and I make through compromise. It comes through listening and reserving judgment until we can both change. Only then, can we again favor one another.

What’s that about forgiveness?

If I’m in dispute with you I can’t reconcile with you until I forgive you. Forgive you for being a jerk. For having wrong ideas. For disagreeing with me. For whatever is on my list that gives me the self-righteous excuse to push you away, to stop listening, to stop caring about you.

Only through forgiveness can I become willing to return (repent) to a state of right relationship with you. Only then can I reconcile. Assuming you too are willing, of course. You just might have your own list and be enjoying the fruits of your own anger.

If that’s the case: Houston, we have a problem.

Easily dealt with

Fortunately, there’s an easy solution. Love. Easier said than done, I know, but it’s one of the tools in that tool-kit, remember?

Last week, I wrote about my friend Brian, who met love in the midst of a group of young people who talked him out of suicide. God’s love, expressed through them, radically changed his life.

That love reconciled Brian to God, from whom he’d been estranged his entire life. It also reconciled him to other people, whom he’d been blaming for his troubles. Finally, it reconciled him to himself.

He was living one way, met love, and now lives another.

I’m not saying that love without God in it can’t lead to some level of reconciliation. It can. But I don’t believe it transforms us, and it’s much harder for it to last. Reconciliation is God language. We can borrow it, but if He’s not in it, it’s not as powerful as when He is. His involvement gives it a capital letter, as it were.

Reconciliation happens everywhere

God is always all-in. He does nothing by half measures. If God is love, then He is always love, and is love all the time. He is not arbitrary. Sure, it’s easy to ask amid a pandemic, ‘Oh yeah? So where’s God in this?’

That’s a great question. In fact, that’s the right question. Because God always comes into evil situations – whether created by the devil directly, or by my own sin. When I look for Him – I can find a path to reconciliation.

God showed up in our neighborhood as Jesus Christ, to reconcile the world to Himself, no longer counting our sins against us – if we believe in Him.1 It’s pretty simple, really.

So He continues: reconciling all of creation to Himself. It’s happening all the time everywhere, whether we can see it or not.

Of course, we can work against it. If I come up and hit you in the nose, that’s not what you’d call a reconciling gesture. However, even in that stupid act and its aftermath, there is an opportunity for reconciliation to begin.

Physically, it’s obvious: the blood clots and then soon stops flowing; in a short time the pain and swelling recede; damaged tissue repairs itself; not too long after, it’s as though nothing happened.

On a heart level it’s a different matter. If I’m not willing to apologize profusely (and probably, have a pretty good excuse that you’ll accept!) you won’t begin to think about forgiving me. Thus, I stop that omnipresent reconciliation in its tracks. Or, if you think I’m offering a bogus excuse, or are insincere, you may also call a halt to the healing.

See? Even when it doesn’t happen, it’s still available. The potential remains. We just have to grab it, and it becomes real.

Looking ahead

Hang on to this idea that reconciliation is happening all the time, everywhere. Because we’ll explore that in the coming weeks. And I think you’ll be surprised to find out that it shows up in some seemingly unlikely places.

1. 2 Corinthians 5:19-21 (NLT) ‘For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.’

Definition courtesy of Cambridge Dictionary

Read the entire series