Kingdom People – Fruit Bearers
The apples produced by a small orchard behind my grandparent’s house served many purposes. We ate them, cooked them, used them for ammunition in war games, and shot them off fence posts with a .22. A few even became firecracker grenades and exploded in mid-air in a blaze of glory.
I know now we were wasteful. How we use fruit is a matter of good stewardship, to be sure. But the existence of spiritual fruit is a result of our union with Christ and the Spirit working in us.
The apostle Paul identifies the Fruit of the Spirit in his letter to the Galatians: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) We can ignore the Spirit’s work and stunt our growth, or cultivate a receptive heart and experience abundance. We are called to produce, and if we want to be kingdom people, we must welcome the Spirit’s transforming power.
The Fruit of the Spirit have multiple forms and applications. They are relevant to almost every human experience and encounter. And they are bound together by the “Three-in-One.”
In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul talks about the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (2 Corinthians 13:14) made possible through the grace of Jesus and the love of God. Indeed all of these are gifts from God: His grace, His Love and His fellowship.
I realize I am being redundant since “grace” and “gift” are synonymous, and the Father, Son and Spirit are one. My point, however, is that the Fruit of the Spirit is an outward indication the divine is changing us on the inside. In many ways the fruit we bear is the Godhead personified. Through it the world sees the Father, Son and Spirit.
If I might go back to the way we treated my grandfather’s apples for a moment, I believe there might be a message for our role as fruit bearers. We decided how the apples were used. Some made their way into one of my grandmother’s apple pies or cobblers, and others were squeezed through an apple cider press. Whether or not God gave us the apples for grenades is probably debatable, but I can testify that they brought much joy to my life as a floundering pre-adolescent.
But though we decide how we use spiritual fruit, we are not their designer. To be honest, I sometimes assume, since the Fruit of the Spirit are seen in me, they belong to me. In this way I disregard the fact God is growing them (remember, they are a result of His work, not ours), for a specific purpose. Could it be the joy God is producing in me has already been purposed for a friend who finds himself at rock bottom? Is patience especially strong so I can deal with a high maintenance brother who can’t seem to get his act together?
I am suggesting the Fruit of the Spirit shouldn’t be treated like random apples falling from a tree, but rather intentional works of grace from a God who knows exactly how He wants us to use them. Whether or not we are willing to be used is another issue, and the quality of our fruit will depend on our openness to the Spirit’s leading. But the possibility exists for God to use us as a mighty conduit to others.
If you want to be a fruit bearer, remember the fruit is not yours, but rather the result of the One who works in you. It has been purposed and your job is to nurture a bumper crop so your ministry can yield kingdom growth. When we view the Spirit’s influence in this way we position ourselves to see God working in ways we could never have imagined.
I am not sure how we would toss a spiritual fruit in the air with a firecracker. Maybe that’s what we do when we “shine like stars” in our world (Philippians 2:15). But one thing is certain: kingdom people were created to bear fruit, and if we remember where it comes from and what it is for, we are bound to make some noise.