The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. 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.” And his disciples heard him say it. Mark 11
Like Jesus, I REALLY want to see fruit.
I love productivity. I love accomplishing things.
And I hate feeling like I am spinning my wheels. The boon and bane of not having a paid job is being able to be “flexible,” which, for me, really means distractable. (Ok, spell check says that’s not a word, but it needs to be.) I live a life of getting sidetracked. And when I’m feeling tired, it’s even worse. I’m sucked into a vortex of puttering. Ack!
So after vacation, I wanted a new start. Time to be more productive! I became more intentional about scheduling my time.
And it worked. I had d times, coffee with friends, a hospital visit, a Bible study, lunch in Montgomery, someone over for dinner. I wrote the newsletter, wrote an article, did the books, ran errands, organized kingdom kids, oh, and got my toes done.
But later in the week, as I prayed during my quiet time, I was reminded that all of this is nothing if it isn’t accompanied by the sweet soft voice of the Spirit.
It’s like Paul asserts in I Cor 13:1 — “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
We can do great things, but if we don’t do them out of love, they’re just empty efforts. Love is what turns the cacophonous notes of our actions into music.
And love is only one of the fruits of the Spirit. This is true for them all. When we work without the Spirit, it’s like laboring in a garden all day without planting anything. It’s like running around in a silent movie. The vibrancy is missing.
Because God created life to be more than empty actions. It’s a dance. God plays the music and our souls respond. Life is the personal experience of God’s art taking shape.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:10
For the ground that has soaked up the rain that frequently falls on it and yields useful vegetation for those who tend it receives a blessing from God. Heb 6:7
There’s a beauty in soaking up the grace God gives us and producing a crop.
And perhaps the best grace He gives is His Spirit.
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! Luke 11:13
This, I believe, is the fruit that Jesus looks for — not just good deeds, but actions that well up from the fruit of the Spirit in us.
“I am the vine. You are the branches. Those who live in me while I live in them will produce a lot of fruit. But you can’t produce anything without me.” John 15:5
Today we live in an age where we can live in Christ, and he can live in us. THAT is the source of fruit.
And back then, even though Jesus’ followers didn’t all have the indwelling of the Spirit, they had the Word, and they still could act out of a heart of love, reverence and gratitude. That is fruitful.
Blessed is the one . . . whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season. Ps 1:1-3
“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Hos 6:6
But we have more. When we walk in the Spirit, we have this amazing power of life within us.
. . . life is at work in you. II Cor 4:12b
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, Eph 3:20
And with this power we can GENERATE. The fruits of the Spirit do not come back empty.
Love never ends. I Cor 13:1
And it’s not this burdensome labor. It flows. It’s organic.
To me it’s the most beautiful thing. God’s glory shining here on earth.