I just celebrated my 43rd birthday a few weeks ago. It was a nice day, filled with gifts, dinner out, and a trip to some beautiful gardens with my husband and daughters. We saw beautiful healthy plants and flowers all in bloom. Someone worked very hard to produce all that beauty. But without the sun and the rain, which God provides, their work would come to nothing. I’ve had 43 years of living, 33 of them walking with Jesus, and I still expect fruit from my life on my terms.
You know what I mean, right? “Well, God, I did what you said…I mean I obeyed your word, but now I don’t seem to see the fruit of that obedience…” I might say in my heart. In other words, I often long to see the fruit of my labor in accord with what I have done…now rather than later. And when it doesn’t appear that fruit is growing, I can get impatient, angry or bitter. My husband, quoting a favorite Christian writer of ours, calls this “fruit inspection.” We all tend to do this from time to time, in both our lives and in the lives of others. We run through the list of “have not’s” in our lives (or in others’ lives) and note the areas where we just aren’t seeing fruit. This can be really dangerous. Farming and gardening teaches us that fruit production is a slow, fragile process for most plants. We don’t walk around every day examining each thing we’ve planted to see how much it’s grown. A farmer who produces in mass certainly cannot do this! Yet, when we wait a week or so, or even a month, we see the beautiful growth and change that has emerged while we “weren’t looking.”
While we know, biblically, that it is “God who gives the increase,” we can still assume that somehow we can speed up or slow down our life’s fruit by doing and not doing specific things. Today, I was reading in Hosea and came again across this passage,
O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; from me comes your fruit.” Hosea 14:8 ESV
What a beautiful, I mean absolutely beautiful reminder from God about who gives the fruit, right? If you are tempted to do some fruit inspection this week, whether in your own life or in someone else’s, remember to keep things in right perspective. God is the one who grants the fruit. We simply abide in Him. God says that if we abide in him we WILL bear MUCH FRUIT. We can trust Him in this. He is always faithful.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing….By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” John 15:4,5,8,9 ESV