I’ve got a young lemon tree in my backyard. It’s not very strong yet, but it’s got lemons. Only a few, but they’re lemons. I know it’s a lemon tree because I can see lemons hanging from the branches. If I was doubtful at all that it was a lemon tree I could cut those lemons off the tree and suck the juice and I would be convince that it was a lemon tree.
I’ve got another bush in my backyard. The leaves suggest it may be an apple, but it may be something completely different. It was in a pot in someone else’s backyard when I got it and for a couple of years I’ve watched but there’ve been no flowers, and certainly no fruit. I can’t really tell what it is.
When a tree produces fruit it seems to be the ultimate statement. A kind of announcement: “I’m a lemon tree and I can prove it. I produce lemons.”
How do you know if I’m a follower of Jesus? Well you can take my word for it. But ultimately, you’re looking for fruit. You want to see some sort of evidence that convinces you that I’m a follower of Jesus. After all, if I say I’m a follower of Jesus, but you see me breaking the law of behaving badly you would probably doubt my word.
The Apostle Paul said: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Now that makes sense. Here are some pieces of fruit, some outcomes from being a follower of Jesus. When people see these virtues working out in another person’s life they want to ask the question, how can a person be like this?
When a person uses bad language all the time, they’re constantly aggressive, they’re vindictive or hurtful to others, it’s like bad fruit. And bad fruit suggests there’s something wrong with the tree. So the problem is not just with the outward appearance. There’s a deeper problem.
So while my lemon tree is only small and a little spindly, the healthy lemons that it is producing, say to me that this is a lemon tree and it’s OK. People are always looking for fruit in our lives, and we can’t produce good fruit if there’s something wrong with the roots.
Fruit like love and joy and peace, forbearance, kindness; you know … all those great virtues that Paul talked about, don’t come naturally. He called them the fruit of the Spirit. They’re the result of Jesus being present in our lives; they’re the result of a person living in harmony with the Holy Spirit.
What’s your fruit like? Can people see the fruit and know that you’re a follower of Jesus. Or is it still a secret?