It’s delicious. Nutritious. And, despite our best scientific advances, it can’t be created in a laboratory. Sorry to break it to you, kids, but Skittles aren’t a fruit.
Real fruit is the result of a long, intricate, seemingly mundane natural process.
A seed is planted. After years and years, it grows into a tree. Eventually, that tree becomes mature enough to bear fruit. Fruit begins to grow, and after a few more months, it’s ready to be harvested. Eaten. Enjoyed. Or, the fruit rots, falls, and releases more seeds, and the cycle begins anew.
For trees, being fruitful isn’t easy. It takes time. Patience. The right combination of sunlight, water, and soil. But it’s the only way the tree can reproduce, and the only way to create sweet, delicious fruit.
For humans, living a fruitful life isn’t so easy, either. We, especially in the West, live in a very results-oriented society, one that demands instant production without regard to the growth process. We are overworked, overstressed, overstimulated, and overwhelmed. Mother Teresa herself put it like this: “Everything is measured according to results, and we get caught up in being more and more active to generate results.”
We tend to demand the same level of immediate gratification from God that we look for in other areas of life, too. So you’ve given your heart to God, yet you still find yourself struggling with sin? With doubt? With old habits? You surrendered, but then plunged yourself into busying your schedule for God without taking the time to grow, in the secret, in the quiet place? Why is your life still tough? Why is your heart still broken?
Galatians talks about the “fruits of the Spirit.” Things like patience. Self-control. Kindness. Qualities that contradict our existing tendencies; go against what comes naturally to us. Qualities that take time to grow. These fruits don’t grow overnight, and don’t grow with concentrated, concerted effort on our part.
These fruits can only grow when we keep our eyes and hearts fixed on the only Source of Life. The Way. The Truth. The Life. Abide in the Vine, and you’ll bear fruit beyond your wildest expectations.
Simply put, seek Jesus first. Everything else you’re looking for will come out of this one decision to prioritize the only One who can change you from the inside out.
Paul says it like this: “When you intend to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile, we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.”
God takes our inward faith and transforms it into the outward fruit that matters most: love.
Just as fruit doesn’t discriminate when it comes to who eats it, true love doesn’t discriminate when it comes to its recipient. All the religion in the world is useless if it doesn’t lead to love. Love for everyone. Muslim, Christian, Sikh, atheist. Gay, straight, trans. Asian, African, Arab, American, Antarctican.
Mother Teresa, again, nails it when she says, “The success of love is in the loving; it is not in the result of loving.”
We don’t love so that others can believe the same things we do. We don’t love only those who look like us, think like us, act like us. We love because we can’t help it: the love of Christ, burning inside of us, leaves us passionate about people. Gung-ho about giving. Crazy about changing the world.
This is the fruit an unbelieving world needs to see, to taste. An unbelieving world, fed up with Christians who say one thing and do another, sick of atrocities being committed in the name of Christ, and tired of judgmental, narrow-minded, legalistic believers, will never be confronted with the reckless love of a Savior if the closest they get to seeing Him is looking at a bunch of His followers whose love, or lack thereof, looks nothing like that of the Jesus they claim to know.
This is why Jesus tells us, begs us, to abide in Him. Let His Spirit do His work on the inside before we rush out to do His work on the outside. Take time to let the Master Vintner cultivate you, prune you, get you ready to bear His fruit.
God is far more concerned with who we are in Him than what we do for Him. Seek first the Kingdom of God, and fruit, yes, all the fruit, will be added unto you.