I have never had much of a green thumb. I try to garden and produce things, but rarely succeed, in spite of consistent research and efforts. I currently have two porch pot attempts in the works, neither of which are wildly thriving. One of these pots features a tomato that I planted in the spring…I have watered it diligently and kept it alive, and it has actually grown quite a bit as far as height is concerned. However, the plant has not yet yielded a single tomato. It continues to grow up, and I continue to water it and watch it develop…but it has not yet given anything, and I eagerly await a blossom– or bud or whatever a baby tomato is called.
In some senses, we can be somewhat like this tomato plant, if we aren’t careful. We can grow and change as we age. We can even grow spiritually and take in daily “water” as we read God’s word and develop understanding and knowledge of our own. However, personal “height” is not of much use to the Lord. It is great to know a lot about the Bible. It is even better to have a growing relationship with Christ. But if we are genuinely following God and truly rooted in Him, our lives will demonstrate it and we will give off spiritual fruit to prove it. What does this produce look like?
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. -Galatians 5:22-23
By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. -Matthew 7:16-18
If our attitudes, actions, and priorities are foundationally planted in God’s will, we will be actively producing. Rather than merely attending church to receive and be fed, we will be part of church, contributing and leading and serving others. Instead of simply memorizing Bible verses or reading commentaries, we will seek ways to do what the word of God commands, and to teach others to do likewise. We will love. We will forgive and make peace. We will be part of Christ’s body and part of His vine:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” -John 15:5
As we teach and lead others, especially when we work with children, our prayer should be that we will cultivate spiritual fruit in their lives, as well. It is one thing to watch kids grow up, hear them spout off Bible verses, and see them progress through stages of Sunday School. If we are planting vines that are connected with Christ, we will have the blessing of witnessing people that turn and reach out to others, as well. We will see the fruit of the spirit bloom and blossom in their lives, and know that they are giving something valuable and nourishing to people, and back to God. Plants that grow tall and wave long branches may look fine, but serve minimal purpose. When tomatoes or grapes or apples appear, we know the roots are firmly established. When our lives, or the lives of others, begin to share and bloom and blossom, we can be assured that they, too, are grounded and purposeful.