Producing Fruit

I recently heard a sermon based on the parable of the fig tree from the gospel of Luke. If you don’t remember the details, here it is:

“…A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'” Luke 13:6-9

It’s meant, of course, to show the patience God has with us. He is willing to wait, and to give us the benefit of time and careful cultivation — but the rest of the story is this — if we are not in union with Christ, we will be like that unfruitful fig, just taking up space.

In the gospel of John, we learn:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. “John 15:5

If we are in Christ, we will bear fruit. Once again, we see how this doctrine lays the foundation for everything is else in our faith life. The fruit that we can expect to see in a true believer is described in Galatians 5:

” … the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

We can’t produce this crop on our own. In baptism, we’ve been united to the One who can. The more we lean into that relationship, the more we learn to depend upon Him, the greater our harvest will be. The fields are ripe for harvest today — don’t be an unfruitful fig!

For more about the fruit of the Spirit see:

Fruitful Gifts

Mmm . . . Fruit.

How to Bear Fruit

Being a Biblical Christian, part 2

This is part 2 of my husband’s sermon on living biblically.

George Barna, who is well-known for his work doing surveys about the church was asked how we can know what another person truly believes?  How can asking questions open up something which can be kept hidden?  In his answer, Dr. Barna said that he does not just ask people what they believe, he also questions them about what they do.  The he said this:

“You do what you believe.  If your behavior doesn’t represent your (stated) beliefs, it’s not really a belief.”

Jesus says the same thing.  At the close of the Sermon on the Mount, he speaks of false prophets and how to tell who they are, saying:

“You will recognize them by their fruit…. every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. “

In other words, if you are believer, you will have a living faith, one which presents itself to the world through deeds.  Let’s continue with Paul’s words in the book of Romans:

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many parts in one body and all the body’s parts do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually parts of one another.  However, since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them properly: if prophecy, in proportion to one’s faith; if service, in the act of serving; or the one who teaches, in the act of teaching; or the one who exhorts, in the work of exhortation; the one who gives, with generosity; the one who is in leadership, with diligence; the one who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:3-8

Essentially what Paul does here is move everything that is spiritual out to the rest of our lives..There are people whose Christianity is limited pretty much to an hour or so on Sunday;  but our worship isn’t confined to one space, once a week.  Rather, our entire life is worship.

When someone lives a life of faith that is framed by a truly biblical worldview, they will come to understand how it is that God has blessed them in terms of the tasks prepared for them to do which build up His kingdom.  As Carl Olaf Rosenius said:

“Believers are not to use their time and gifts according to their fancy, but these are to be used for the glory of Him who paid such a tremendous price for us.”