There are all kinds of tests that we encounter in life: tests at school, job tests, vision tests, cholesterol tests (and other physical tests), driver’s tests.
Speaking of driver’s tests, there was a study released in recent weeks which reported nearly 20 million Americans (about 1 in 10 drivers) would fail a state driver’s test if they had to take one today. GMAC Insurance gave a 20-question test to more than 5,000 licensed drivers between the ages of 16 and 65 in order to measure basic knowledge about traffic laws and safety. BTW, drivers in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states did worst. Twenty percent of test-takers failed here.
Sadly, though, many people go through their lives testing all kinds of different things, but never assessing one’s spiritual condition. For Christ-followers in the Wesleyan tradition, the question Wesley would ask is, "Have you good fruit?" Wesley believed that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, your life will naturally bear good fruit.
So, let’s begin this series with a little test. In the next few weeks we’re going to look at some different qualities. In each of the following categories assess yourself in that particular area: Passion & Purpose, Holiness, Joy, Compassion, and Perseverance.
Fruitfulness, for a Christ-follower, is directly connected to spiritual maturity! We all bear fruit naturally — but the kind of fruit we bear, and how much, depends on what we allow God to do in our lives!
“Spiritual maturity—or spiritual formation—is defined at its core not by being busy with a lot of Christian activities, or knowing a lot about the Bible, or piling up spiritual accomplishments. The Pharisees did all of these things, and Jesus said they were the least fruitful of anybody. To grow in authentic Biblical love and joy and peace and patience …” (John Ortberg)
- What kind of fruit are you bearing in your life right now?
- What kind of fruit do you want to bear in the future?
Just as there are so many kinds of different fruit in the world today, there are also so many different ways we could describe the fruit of the Spirit. (See Galatians 5.19-26 for a description of both good and bad kinds of fruit.)
This list in Galatians 5 is not a complete list. And I don’t believe we will all look the same or bear the same kinds or amounts of fruit. But what I do believe is that, when we allow God’s Spirit to control us, we will produce good fruit, and the more we yield to God’s leadership in our lives, the more good fruit we will produce!
So, as we talk about qualities of the fruit of the Spirit that I believe we need to experience here in our context, my hope and prayer is that we won’t just learn new information, but that we will be transformed and be filled with a desire to bear more good fruit!
“We are to fulfill God’s dream — that we will bring him glory through a remarkably abundant life.” (Bruce Wilkinson)
I believe that it begins with right perspective and priorities. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God …” (Matthew 6.33). Earlier he had said, "Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be" (Matthew 6.19-21). We will be passionate about the things we focus on, and as Christ-followers we need to focus on the things of God!
Jesus talked a lot about growing character from the inside out. Read Matthew 12.33-37; Matthew 15.17-20; Matthew 23.27-28.
Jesus, wrapping up the sermon on the mount, said "A healthy tree produces good fruit, and an unhealthy tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit that is produced." (Matthew 7.17-20)
What kind of seeds are you planting?
It seems to me that kind of fruit we bear depends on what kind of seeds we are planting, in our own lives and in the world around us!
How many seeds are you planting?
If you want to produce much fruit, you must plant lots of seeds!
“The Father wants more fruit from us so much that he actually tends our lives so we will keep moving up – from a barren to a productive branch, from an empty to an overflowing basket. And more is always possible. Why? Because we were created to bear fruit, more fruit, and still more fruit!” (Bruce Wilkinson)
You reap what you sow!
Scripture says, in Galatians 6.7-10: "You cannot fool God, so don’t make a fool of yourself! You will harvest what you plant. If you follow your selfish desires, you will harvest destruction, but if you follow the Spirit, you will harvest eternal life. Don’t get tired of helping others. You will be rewarded when the time is right, if you don’t give up. We should help people whenever we can, especially if they are followers of the Lord."
So, have you good fruit?
Some of my favorite words by Jesus are found in john 15 where Jesus says, "You did not choose me. I chose you and sent you out to produce fruit, the kind of fruit that will last" (See
entire passage John 15.1-17). As you build your life on Christ, may you bear more and more fruit for God’s kingdom!