The last stage in the farming cycle is harvest. It is the most-awaited time since it brings in the reward for the hardworking farmer. But will all the seed he plants produce fruit? Not so. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus said that when the sower scattered the seed, some fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. He then explained, “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Matt. 13:22). There are indeed plants that will not bear fruit, not because of the quality of the seed sown, but because of the adverse environmental conditions around them. These make the plant unproductive and practically useless in the end.
As far as Jesus is concerned, all plants should be fruit bearers. This expectation was fully manifested when he went looking for fruit from a fig tree. “When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’” (Mark 11:13-14). Because of the words that Jesus uttered against the tree, it quickly withered from the roots. This incident illustrates that Jesus expects believers to always be fruit bearers – in season and out of season. Jesus is not impressed by the many “leaves” that make us look good from the outside. Rather, he is more interested in the fruit that comes with being true believers as we respond to the gospel; failing to do so will be dealt with severely.
To further emphasize the need to bear fruit, Jesus gave a similar parable. He said, “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” (Luke 13:6-9) This parable underscores the patience of God in dealing with our salvation. He is willing to give us another chance to respond to the gospel, but we should never abuse his patience. Should we choose to remain stiff-necked and remain fruitless, he is willing to discard us. Just as the Lord is concerned about our salvation, he is also concerned about the wasted time of his workers and the wasteful use of resources. He revealed this concern when he gave instructions to his disciples as they went preaching the gospel of the kingdom, saying, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet” (Matt. 10:14). What he was telling his disciples was that they should not waste their time when one does not accept their message. Instead, they should move on since there are many others that will accept it.
The emphasis for fruit is not without any basis. Jesus said, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matt. 7:15-16). While many will be able to deceive others by their “leaves”, which are outward trappings that appear to have the form of godliness, it is their “fruit” manifested in their lives that will reveal their true personality before God. Because of this, Jesus said further, “every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit” (Matt. 7:17-18).
It is worth noting that the apostle Paul gave a list of the fruit of the Spirit. In making the enumeration, he started with love. He then expounded on love saying, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:4-8). This is the kind of fruit that should be manifested fully in our lives—in our actions and speech.
There is no better way to glorify God than to love one another. It is inconceivable to see someone who is hateful being saved. Therefore, let us manifest the fruit of the Spirit in our lives and bear good fruit. Let us remember that by our fruit we shall be known and be rewarded accordingly. Hallelujah!