This morning I watched/listened to a video of someone sharing how we need to look at someone’s fruit, not gifts to know who they are. This is something I’ve been thinking of for weeks, if not months. Did you ever have a thought that floated through your mind time and time again, but you never really took the time to think through it? This is one of those thoughts/topics. Fruit – what exactly is it and what does it look like?
There are several topics that float through my head. Somehow at some point in time a thought drops into my heart and my head starts to process it. I didn’t come up with it. I don’t immediately study, meditate, or think through. It’s almost like a seed was planted by something I heard, saw, or read. I have a few of those that go on at any given time. I don’t have the time to really put thought into all that. So, I just sit on it. I let it marinade. As days, weeks, and sometimes months go by I have the “thought” in the back of my mind and when certain words are heard or read my ears perk up; I pay attention. These moments help the seedling grow and develop into something worth “thinking” about.
Suddenly, there are moments like this morning, where I heard someone say something that puts into words those “thoughts” or “seeds” that have been dancing through my heart and my brain. It’s like an “ah-ha” moment. These moments propel me into pursuing the thought because it’s developed enough to ensure it’s the Father’s heart towards something and not my own.
It’s a given that the seed I’m writing about today has to do with fruit. We often hear things like “we will know them by their fruits” or questions like “are they producing any fruit?” What in the world does that mean? I grew up in church. “Fruit” is a word that’s quite common in churches and it’s thrown around a lot. It’s a simple biblical term that becomes so engrained in the Christian culture that I don’t think we truly understand what the word means or is referring to.
One of the many things I love about the Bible is that in many cases, the Bible explains itself. Oftentimes we are just too lazy to go look up the answer or we become dependent on someone else feeding us the answer.
Matthew 7:15-20 reads
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.”
This is where that very popular question comes from. “Are they producing any fruit?”
Now, that is a very important question to ask. Jesus did instruct us to look for fruit in order to identify if they are a true or fast prophet. He did say that we would know people by their fruits. But what is fruit?
Without putting too much thought into it, when I would think of fruit, these are some of the most common questions we ask (about ourselves or others).
Are they going to church? Do they serve or lead a ministry? Are all their children in church? If they preach/teach, are they a good preacher/teacher? Do they pray or read the Bible. Do I feel the anointing when they speak? Do people accept Jesus when they do an altar call? Do miracles happen when they pray for people? Do they evangelize? Do they disciple people? Do they donate? Do they open their homes? Do they fill churches?
I found fault in my thought process of identifying fruits when I would observe (Christian) individuals with major character flaws, yet the answer to those questions are yes. That’s one of the ways that seeds get placed in my heart and head. When I notice a conflict with something I believe. When there is a conflict, I know one thing. The Bible has an answer. The key is to find it. I guess that’s why I “sit” on these thoughts for so long. I don’t put pressure on myself to find the answer. Why? Because often times when we go out to seek an answer, we have the tendency to go looking for the answer we want…and the Bible can offer that to you if you don’t read it with a pure heart. So, I sit. I wait. I meditate. I listen. All actively and inactively. Until suddenly the answer slaps me across the face and I can’t help but realize just how obvious it is. That’s the magic moment that brings transformation into my life.
So, how do I know what fruit looks like? Well, the Bible plainly tells us what the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT is. It’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Thinking of bearing fruit in this manner really changes the concept from what someone does to who they are.
Thinking of bearing fruit in this manner really changes the concept from what someone does to who they are.
I like the way The Passion Translation puts it is fantastic – “fruits of their character.” I’m not sure where the concept of bearing much fruit meant how many people we bring to church, how strong our anointing is, or how many people we tell about Jesus in a day came from. What I do know is that what I see in the Scripture is that we have a list of attributes that allows us to identify fruit.
Now, keep in mind that when we read Scripture, our heart should never be to learn about what others should be doing, but we should examine ourselves. While the questions I posed are ones that I expressed a “you,” we must remember to always examine ourselves. If identifying fruits in others wasn’t important, Jesus wouldn’t have suggested we do so, but the most important relationship we have is with our God. When we learn to examine ourselves and identify the fruit in our own life, we don’t really worry about what others are doing.
Please know that I’m not saying that all those things, like evangelizing, praying for people, reading the Bible, preaching etc aren’t important. I’m just saying that the fruit we need to look at is not what we do, but who we are. If I constantly go out and evangelize, then eventually people will be saved. I could be living the worst life ever. The Gospel being evangelized is still the Gospel whether I am committing adultery or not. The salvation being provided is not the individual that provides, but it’s Jesus. If I’m a dynamic charismatic preacher, I speak with beautiful words, and know how to evoke emotion, then it’s likely that many will come up for prayer at the end of a message and tears will be flowing. The individual may watch pornography every day, but that doesn’t limit God from using them. God can bless anyone’s life when someone is using their gifts, whether in sin or not. I know it’s hard for many to accept, but it’s true.
How many preachers and leaders do we see operate in miracles yet we come to discover secret lives of sin they are living? It leaves many perplexed, frustrated, and confused, but we must remember that gifts are given without repentance. Everyone is born with natural gifts and some gifts are given after our salvation. Either way, we are responsible for those gifts once given and if someone decides to use them, even though they don’t have the fruit of the Spirit, they can. Fruit of the Spirit is not a requirement for gifts. I know it would be easier if it were, but it’s not. That’s why discernment is important. Many mistake gifts for anointing. There are many talented singers that can give us goosebumps; that doesn’t mean they are anointed. Goosebumps aren’t always a sign of anointing or God’s presence. At times, it’s simply a sign of an extremely beautiful gift.
As Christians, we all want to bear fruit. My challenge for us is that we change our view of fruit. Let’s measure fruit by what the Scripture tells us fruit is; Galatians 5:22.
Now, this is a thought that’s just developing, so I could be missing scriptures or be incomplete in my thought process. I welcome any scriptures or thoughts about fruit that I may not have included here. I love to learn and through this blog, I just want to share snippets of what I’m learning, while I’m learning it. My beliefs have changed over time. I learn more and more about God as my relationship with Him deepens. I’m not threatened by that. It’s possible that a year from now I will see this totally different, but this is the thought road I’m on now.
I’d love to know if this makes sense to you or if you have any differing view or scriptures I should look into.
With much love,