“(That you may) walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him,
being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:10 (NKJ)
The symbols of Thanksgiving are inescapable as we prepare for yet another holiday with friends and family. We long for the traditional turkey, baked to a golden brown with its legs trussed in white. The children make paper turkeys with the outline of their hand; the thumb is positioned perfectly as the turkey’s head, complete with a red wattle hanging beneath its neck. My favorite representation of Thanksgiving, however, is the plenteous cornucopia, bursting forth with ripened fruit from its wide and ample opening. It is this image of Thanksgiving that has caused me to evaluate my own personal fruitfulness. Since I have been “rooted and built up in Him” (Col. 2:7), am I bringing forth fruit pleasing to Him? More importantly, what does spiritual fruitfulness look like?
Fruit (the product of fruitfulness) is used metaphorically of work or deeds (Eph. 2:10; Phil. 1:11; 2 Pet. 1:8). While works are evidence of Christian activity, it does not always tell the whole story. Jesus’ teachings often encouraged listeners to look beyond what they could see with their physical eyes and to examine the motives and intentions behind the deeds (Matthew 7:16-20).
“You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes 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.”
This view of fruit bearing was very intimidating to the religious establishment of Jesus’ day and still is to believers who gauge the quality of their “spiritual” fruit by calendars filled with church activities and hours dedicated to devotional activities. Fruitfulness is not “busyness for the Lord” but “transformed living” resulting in the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5). Fruitfulness reflects the heart and mind of our beloved Lord and Savior, in whose image we are to be daily conformed (2 Cor. 3:18).
How do we become fruitful? Fruitfulness begins and ends with the Chief Source of all life, God the Father through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Fruitfulness is the visible expression of the Holy Spirit’s power working inwardly and visibly in the life of the believer. The fruit of Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) is not the result of impotent human efforts but is the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit being reflected in our lives as we divest control of our mind, will, and emotions to Him.
Our role in developing spiritual fruit is to abide in Christ. To abide means to “tarry and remain”. As we abide, we listen for His voice, we obey His instruction, and we serve at His pleasure. Jesus is the True Vine. Believers are His branches and therefore dependent on Him for spiritual nutrients which can only be provided by the Giver and Sustainer of life. Without Him we, the branch, can bear no fruit (John 15:4-5). If we successfully abide in Him, we produce “much fruit”. As we produce much fruit, the Father is glorified (John 5:8).
We are Christ’s disciples and have been appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16). This Thanksgiving is a great time to evaluate the fruit you are producing. How does your garden grow?
Good to the Last Byte…
Abiding requires believers to not only dedicate time alone with the Father but also practice the art of being in His presence continually. Since Christ is with us continuously (in the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit) practicing His presence must become an intentional act of abiding.