I love it when I read scripture and the words just seem to jump off the page at me. It is like God is saying “Look right here. This is what I want you to know.” This happened to me recently while I was studying Luke chapter 3.
There was John the Baptist preaching in the desert and crowds were coming out to see him. It had been hundreds of years since a prophet had been recognized in Israel so lots of people from the region went out to see what was up.
John noticed that some in the crowd coming to be baptized were really looking for “fire insurance” and not really interested in living for God. So he warned them that there was no birthright to heaven and that they should change their ways. He told them that the proof of a contrite heart was laudable actions.
“The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire”
Over and over again in the Bible we see fruit being used as a synonym for acts of love, humility, and generosity. However, in Mathew 7:15 – 20 we are told that there are good fruit producers and bad fruit producers. Some who would claim to be followers of Jesus either bear bad fruit or no fruit at all.
We are told that a true follower of Jesus will be known by the fruit they produce (John 15:2). When Jesus told the parable of the Tenants (Mathew 21:33- 43) he made it clear that we are to produce the fruit for him. So I have to ask myself what kind of fruit I am producing. What does good fruit look like? What does fruit worthy of Jesus look like?
Let’s go back to Luke. John likened the crowd to snakes slithering away from fire. They were mostly there for show, but some were truly concerned and asked John what they should do.
This is where the “Ah ha” moment came for me. In verses 10 through 14 John responds to a series of questions that outlines how the people are to live out their repentance. In general he told them to do their work and be satisfied with an honest wage. He warned them to treat everyone fairly and not to oppress others. And the most significant thing to me was that he told the crowd to be generous and share what they had with those that had not.
So a good tree, or vine, or bush, will produce fruit in the form of kindness, love, and generosity. A good disciple will give from the heart, producing joy, peace, and respect. As Paul so powerfully put it in Romans 7:4-6
4So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. 5For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. 6But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
As an Advocate for Compassion International I have seen the good fruit of the Holy Spirit many times. Hundreds of people, young and old, who give devotedly to children in places they may never see simply because they know that Jesus cares about these kids. It breaks their heart because they know it saddens our Lord when one of these little ones suffers. They care as much for a child thousands of miles away, as they do for the one sitting in their lap, because they know that all are children of God and all deserve to be loved, respected, and nurtured.
There is no doubt for me that this is fruit worthy of my Lord and Savior.