By Joe R. Price
Nobody I know likes rotten fruit. There is nothing appealing about it. It stinks and is slimy, and it attracts flies and other unsightly insects and molds. The scavengers will eat it if they can get to it, and maybe the hogs. But have you ever wondered how rotten spiritual fruit must look to God?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). Christians should be bearing fruit, and that fruit should not turn rotten. Think about some of the properties of fruit which should be present in our lives.
First, we often call fruit “produce.” It is a product of nature and nurturing. Likewise, the “fruit of the Spirit” is produced as one is “led by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16,18,25). We are to live by the direction of the Spirit-inspired gospel – “the faith” he revealed (Gal. 3:2; 1: 11,23). The only way we can bear spiritual fruit is to abide in Christ (Jn. 15:1-5), and that means abiding in his word (Jn. 8:31-32). Is fruit being produced in our lives through our obedience to the gospel of Christ? Or, has the fruit rotted through negligence and disobedience?
Secondly, just as fruit identifies its plant, the fruit of our life identifies to whom we belong. Jesus said that bearing much fruit (by abiding in him) shows that we are his disciples (Jn. 15:8). Bearing the fruit of the Spirit marks us as belonging to Christ. Remember, “by their fruits ye shall know them ” (Matt. 7:20). The fruit of the Spirit in one’s life marks him as being victorious over the works of the flesh: “And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof” (Gal. 5:24; cf. 1 Pet. 4:1-2). The fruit we bear should identify us as being “of Christ Jesus,” not of the world (Gal. 5:19-21).
Thirdly, we understand that fruit must grow to maturity. We do not plant an apple true expecting ripened fruit to appear the next day. Spiritual fruit also takes time to develop and mature. We are often encouraged to grow to maturity or perfection in the New Testament (Acts 20:32; Phil. 3:13-14; Heb. 6:1; 1 Pet. 2:2). This growth occurs by obeying the word of God in our lives (Heb. 5:12-14). We all need diligence and patience as we grow in our faith and obedience. But, we must grow. Just as we cut down a fruit tree which never produces any fruit (Lk. 13:6-9), God will not accept us into heaven if our lives never bear fruit for him (2 Pet. 1:5-11). Is your fruit ripening?
By bearing the fruit of the Spirit, we show Christ to the world (Phil. 214-16). Is your fruit ripening or rotting?
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 23, p. 723
December 3, 1992