Yeah, I know, that title! I have a category on my website that most of you who follow me is called “Food For Thought” where I post usually shorter articles, not always mine, that cause a person reading them to think about something. I thought in this article I would play with that a bit! You have to forgive me, sometimes my mind just goes where it wants.
But I do want to talk about fruit. And, I want you to think about it in maybe just a little bit of a new way. As a Christian, a follower of the example of Christ Jesus, we talk a lot about the Fruit of the Spirit and it’s a common theme in preaching and teaching. The Apostle Paul wrote this to the Galatians:
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” – Galatians 5:16-18, 22-25.
Almost everyone is familiar with verses 22 and 23 describing what the Fruit of the Spirit is. As Christians, at one point in our spiritual journey we have heard this Scripture. But have you given any thought to what fruit is? Most take fruit for granted in the natural. You either like fruit of some kind or, believe it or not, there are those who do not.
Let’s consider fruit in the natural for a moment. Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia says this:
Fruits are the means by which the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants disseminate seeds. Edible fruits, in particular, have propagated with the movements of humans and animals in a symbiotic relationship as a means for seed dispersal and nutrition; in fact, humans and many animals have become dependent on fruits as a source of food. Accordingly, fruits account for a substantial fraction of the world’s agricultural output, and some (such as the apple and the pomegranate) have acquired extensive cultural and symbolic meanings.
In common language usage, “fruit” normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of a plant that are sweet or sour, and edible in the raw state, such as apples, bananas, grapes, lemons, oranges, and strawberries. On the other hand, in botanical usage, “fruit” includes many structures that are not commonly called “fruits,” such as bean pods, corn kernels, tomatoes, and wheat grains.
Now of course, here we are describing what many in the world associate with food. But did you read the above part about the dissemination of seeds; in other words, the spreading of the seeds? As the online encyclopedia states, the seeds are propagated, spread around due to humans and animals. Mankind actually goes to great lengths to cultivate different types of fruit for human consumption.
We all know what kind of goodness is found in perfectly harvested just-ripe fruit whether it be apples, citrus, berries or something like grapes. They can be the most satisfying thing that you can eat!
But, I want you to now think of something else. What do you do with fruit that is bad? How many have bitten into an apple only to find a large, brown bruise or even burrow. Talk about losing the desire for the fruit at that particular moment. Or what about citrus when it has lost its sweetness or sourness and all you taste is an off-putting acrid “wrongness!” Nope, fruit that has gone from ripe to rotten isn’t good for anything but the trash and that’s usually where it goes.
Well, I want to give you another take on fruit in the spiritual sense that we RARELY hear taught on except in passing. Jesus, Himself was the one that used the analogy of fruit as a parable to the disciples that followed Him over two thousand years ago and those who would follow Him in this day and age. Now I’m going to give you the shortened version that the Apostle Luke wrote before I ask you to consider the parallel version that the Apostle Matthew wrote:
“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” – Luke 6:43-45.
Many of you who follow my teaching will notice verse 45. I use it a lot and not just in teaching. It is a benchmark as it were into a person’s heart. As an Evangelist, Pastor or Teacher you have to be discerning (which I will presently get into) to protect the flock that Christ Jesus has charged you to care for. It is not just a matter of feeding the sheep, you have to be aware of dangers that are out to destroy them also, and many of my “fellow sheep” who operate in other gifts do not always recognize or realize this aspect of caring and loving one another.
We have to be able to identify “BAD” fruit and those who are spreading the seed! The thing most people do not consider often, is that the kind of fruit you display upon your “branches” also tells others what “vine” you come from. And if the fruit is not acceptable, the seeds are not what others need either. The WHOLE fruit should be trashed, as it were.
I know, I know; some of you are already going to THAT place. But, Brother Roland that sounds an awful lot like judging someone else and we CAN’T do that! Again, we can’t judge in the sense of condemning or sentencing someone to “eternal darkness.” Only Christ Jesus through the authority of the Father will have that right. BUT, and I know I say it a lot, we DO have the right AND the authority from Christ Jesus to tell whether someone is teaching false and leading His sheep astray! We CAN discern whether they are producing AND spreading bad fruit as opposed to the Fruit of the Spirit!
Think about it in the natural. Would you as a loving parent give your kids a bowl of strawberries that were starting to rot and show signs of major bruising or that were worm-ridden. I don’t know of any parent that would. That fruit would be thrown in the trash before the kids even saw it!
Well, so it is with certain ministries or servants called to do certain things. If we have been appointed to “feed” the flock for instance. We AREN’T going to feed them rotten food and we certainly aren’t going to let someone else rotten food if we see that those someone’s are irresponsible AND bearers of bad “food” or fruit! For the Church, the Body of Christ to grow strong in the Lord, the individual members have to get away from this earthly “bad” fruit called political correctness and start being more willing to feed the truth to the sheep!
Here, now is what Jesus said as recorded in Matthew and you will see the same principle, just expounded on more extensively:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” – Matthew 7:15-20.
Right from the start, the Lord Jesus is identifying the reason for this awareness and discernment; false prophets. What is a modern-day prophet? It’s not someone who predicts the future despite how many believe. A “prophet” is a messenger, supposedly of God’s Word(s). I say supposedly, because just like in the Old Testament, many God-ordained prophets had to speak out to the people against the false prophets they were listening too and as a result of the people listening, they turned and rebelled against God. Thus judgement and discipline and even punishment ensued.
False prophets are NOT a new thing. People listening to false prophets are not a new thing. But, they can be identified by the fruit and the seeds from that fruit that they are spreading around. False prophets don’t just spread the bad seeds by their deeds, no many times the motives behind their deeds are hidden, but what is buried deep within your heart CANNOT be hidden. This is one of the reasons why God Himself, looks not so much on a man’s deeds, though they can be important, but God looks upon a man’s heart. The motives, the reasons FOR a person’s deeds are hidden in the heart. The thing is, what a man truly and fervently loves also resides there and man cannot keep from speaking those things that are most desirable to him.
If a man loves sports, the majority of his conversation will either be about sports or will always come back to sports. If a person loves the gathering of wealth, either their conversations will be based mostly on that OR they will bring the conversation back to that topic. Why? Because what a person loves, what they know intimately is what they enjoy and desire to speak of. Human nature in that regard does not change and anyone who has been attempting to SERVE God and His children for any amount of time will know that to be true.
Again, here is what Jesus Christ stated about this very fact, very emphatically I might add:
“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” – Matthew 12:32-35.
Again, do you see what Jesus is stating? “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” You can apply that to ANY form of modern-day communication. I like to joke that nowadays, “For out of the abundance of the heart, the fingers strike the keys!” Or, the author writes!
It is from the abundance of the heart, or the spirit within, that the seeds from the inner fruit will be dispensed to others. If bitterness, anger and discord, fear, worry, doubt and anxiety, are being spread around by the tongue, then you can know what is in the heart. It is not judging, it is being evidently and demonstrably expressed and the Bible is clear about it.
If however, you are getting a steady stream of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control and the like from a person’s heart, you cannot mistake the stamp or the imprint of the Holy Spirit upon that person’s life.
Yes, it is true that you cannot base everything on one conversation. But you can base your concerns upon a pattern of different conversations. The TRUTH will ALWAYS win out and especially if you are a humble servant of the Lord and your Brothers and Sisters. In your humility is not weakness, but rather your strength comes from you overriding concern and compassion for others. You care about them not JUST in the here and now, but in the eternal scheme of things. This can ONLY come from walking in the Spirit and the anointing of the Holy Spirit over time. That time is dependent upon the Lord’s equipping His servant and their yielding to His yoke.
I truly love my Brothers and Sisters in Christ and that is BECAUSE of the Holy Spirit. I feel exceptionally blessed in that even though many I have not met face to face, I know them in the spirit because of the blessing of modern technology. As Christians, we have been blessed to be born for a time like this! The TRUE Church, the Body of Christ can truly find unity in the Spirit because of our ability to commune over distances. I feel akin to them because of their written comments and the strength of joy, love and faith that comes from the things they write.
So in closing, and especially in this time we are in awaiting the Lord’s direction and His glory to be shown and demonstrated, when we do commune, step out in faith and encourage one another in the Lord. If you are anxious, try not to feed that fear, doubt and anxiety into another and especially those you love, for those seeds can and DO take root and it is harder to dig them out, once they have found fertile ground. Determine within yourself and ask the Lord through His Holy Spirit to help you be only a sower of good seeds from good fruit!