Discover His heart: He expects our lives to bear fruit for the kingdom
It seems that I have a knack for selecting the best fresh fruit at the grocery store, or at least this is what I’m told by family and friends. I’m fairly certain this knack developed because I’ve been selecting fruit for about 150 years, but nevertheless, there are a few things that I look for when I’m inspecting fruit. Weight plays a significant role in the selection – ripe fruit will weigh more for its size than what is expected because sugar increases the moisture content in the fruit making it weigh more. Smell is important as well – no smell indicates that the fruit isn’t ripe and a moldy smell usually means it is overripe. Well, I could go on, but much more important than my fruit selection is the lesson that Jesus taught His disciples about fruit inspection.
@ Mark 11
“The next morning as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. He noticed a fig tree in full leaf a little way off, so he went over to see if he could find any figs…Jesus said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat your fruit again!’” (11:12-14) These were interesting observations for the disciples who were following Jesus that day. We might think that Jesus was very hungry to be moved to the point of cursing a tree for bearing no figs, but the symbolism speaks too loudly for us to imagine it as only about hunger. From the fig tree, Jesus moved to the temple and cleaned it out, cleaned out the scam artists and thieves. Those things not producing fruit that day were addressed. The temple had lost its function as a house of worship, and the fig tree had lost its function as a food source, and both were rebuked.
In Matthew 7:16, Jesus explained about false prophets, “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act…” We often find ourselves as fruit inspectors of those who are professing Jesus as their Savior. Through the years I have learned that any process of inspecting should always begin with me. Am I showing the promise of fruit with my leafy show as a believer, yet bearing no fruit? Do I exhibit the fruit of the spirit in my life as well as the fruit of the harvest of souls?
A merciful Jesus may not curse me for my lack, but what have I done that marks me as a believer when I pray for anything in verse 24? “I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” Forgiveness – the precursor to answered prayers! Having inspected myself with an honest heart, I can then evaluate the actions of others, and their legitimacy as a believer should the need arise – are they good fruit or bad fruit?
@ Mark 12
With clearing out the temple and remarks after that, Jesus upset the religious folks that day. The Sadducees believed only in the Pentateuch, Genesis through Deuteronomy, and did not believe in the resurrection because it was not addressed in those scriptures. After the Pharisees failed to trap Jesus about taxes, the Sadducees attempted to catch Him regarding marriage in Heaven.
Jesus’ response was our perfect example of how to handle what I call professional unbelievers. These individuals attempt to dilute our message with questions regarding what they consider inconsistencies in the Bible or difficult passages we may not fully understand until we get to heaven. However, just like Jesus, we are wise when we go directly to the heart of the matter. He knew their real hang-up was the resurrection – His resurrection.
Regardless of the arguments presented to us, in reality, we are addressing the struggles that unbelievers have with accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord. Our best response is to sidestep the rhetoric and share the truth of the Gospel first. We should never forget that there is an innate power to John 3:16 that convicts men of sin much more effectively than all of our debating or bloviating. When the dust settles, the Gospel will remain.
Moving Forward: May I bear the fruit of the spirit as well as the fruit of the harvest, never disappointing my Jesus.
Tomorrow @ 2 Corinthians 1-3