“A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted”
I once took a stab at a fruit and vegetable garden, but the seeds of strawberries, bell peppers, tomatoes, and lettuces became a weedy bed of dry, unfruitful stalks in a matter of weeks. What were those plants worth to me? At best, nothing; at worst, the shame of my wasted time and money and lack of talent and effort. The reason I planted them wasn’t for the fun of digging in the dirt. It was so they could produce, so I could enjoy the fruits of my labor. But they didn’t, so I didn’t.
We’re created for the same reason: to bear fruit for the kingdom of God. When Solomon listed all the appointed times of a person’s life, one of them was “a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted” (Ecc. 3:2). Some crops are not worth keeping because they don’t bear fruit.
If a Christian does not bear fruit, she is just like my pathetic kitchen garden: worthless. If we don’t contribute to the harvest, God will pluck us up and toss us in the fire (John 15:6).
Yikes, that’s an intimidating thought: Bear fruit or burn. We can’t look down at our branches and see if they’re dripping with ripe, red apples, or scan our fields and see if they’re golden with ripe grain. How do we know if we’re bearing fruit?
First, you’ve got to die. Jesus said, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). That’s right, you can’t bear fruit if you’re living for yourself. Being baptized into Christ, dying to your old life and living for Him, is essential to bearing fruit. (See the page on KatharosNOW about Salvation for more about the steps to losing your life to gain a new one in Christ.)
Next, we have to abide in Christ (John 15:4). That means that we understand that He is the vine, and we are the branches: we receive everything through Him, and do all things through Him. We must seek to be like Christ, receive our strength, wisdom, and humility from Him, and know that we are connected to all other believers through Him. Then we abide in Him.
So what exactly are these fruits? How can someone see that we’re productive Christians? Galatians 5:22, 23 lists the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. When we possess these traits, letting them fill our hearts and minds and guide our actions, our branches will be heavy with fruit, our fields glittering with golden harvest—and that makes our Father beam.
I may have a black thumb, but that doesn’t mean I can’t bear my own fruit. The three steps to do so are anything but fast and easy: Die to yourself, live in Christ, and walk by the Spirit.