JESUS said, “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every good, healthy tree bears good fruit; but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” Matthew 7:16-18
Have you ever been to the produce market to buy fruit and not known how to pick the ripest, sweetest fruit? Have you ever wanted to be sure the fruit was as good on the inside as it appeared on the outside? Did you ask another shopper or the stock personnel how to chose the very best fruit, or for a sample to be sure? I have. Shoppers experienced with a particular fruit and store personnel have gladly shown me how to look for the signs of a good fruit specimen. They showed me how the melon should be heavy for its size, and lighter on one side but preferably yellowish; and they showed me how to knock it and listen for the hollow sound of ripeness. Some can be scratched and sniffed at the tip end for ripeness. The pineapple’s leaves can be easily pulled out if it is ready for use; and they warned me to check for mold. The avocado seed is loose inside when it is shaken, and if there are scars on the skin it will be tastier. The coconut, when you shake it, should still have liquid inside. The darkest, even the blackest cherries have the sweetest and deepest flavor. And you must test by feel, the bottom of the artichoke petals for the amount of pulp, and check for the size of the choke and heart. Without help you may be disappointed in a fruit new to you and decide after you picked the wrong one you don’t like artichokes—any of them. By having tasted an unripe or an ill-formed or sour one you judge the whole species. Similarly, without guidance you might be deceived to deduce that Christianity does not deliver the flavor you like, or that it is hard, or bitter, or bland and untasty.
Taste and see that The LORD is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him!
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, perseverance, gentleness, faith, humility, and self-control.
Many are confused today by world events, and what several leaders have to say about them, both religious and political. Many people are not sure what the truth is and who is telling it. If a shepherd or leader is walking after the Spirit of God, which is the Holy Spirit and the Light, these shepherds have been trained to eat healthy fruit; therefore they will be healthy. Therefore, what comes out of them, their produce will be good and healthy for you. And these will feed you, teaching you to discern good from evil, in order for the Holy Spirit to produce in you the benefits of the Spirit of Truth which result in your joy and strength (Eph 5:9).
In the next several studies we will learn to examine fruit to determine whether or not fruit you are about take in is truly the fruit of The Spirit of God, which delivers flavor to satisfy and give joy and please and delight the soul; nutrition to fortify and strengthen the Body, fullness and power to quench hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Many now place a high value on what they call “realness,” simply because they want to trust what they hear and see, whether or not the feedback validates their present spiritual state and the increases the health of the fruit they are producing. So these people, because they hunger and thirst for righteousness, will strive for “realness” even when it doesn’t make them feel good about themselves.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
Some other people have taken another stance. They would rather feel justified about their own behavior and attitudes, even when they know they are harming themselves or others. They cannot endure sound doctrine (2 Tim 4:3). These prefer the “fakeness” of lies that validate their spiritual state and the fruit they produce. Isaiah, by the word of The Lord called them . . .
“. . . rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to The Lord’s instruction. They tell the seers, “Stop seeing visions!” They tell the prophets, “Don’t tell us what is right. Tell us nice things—flatter us. Tell us lies.”
Which are we?
Jesus said we can see whose side men are on by their fruit.
In this particular verse, Jesus spoke of specifically religious leaders. Today, both religious leaders and political leaders use God’s Name to validate their professional stances. God said through the prophet Jeremiah, “I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding (Jer 3:15).” These are shepherds who will love you and care for you, feeding you the truth. To love you is to feed you the truth. Their loving you works to ensure that you grow strong and healthy with good seeds inside you, to multiply to produce after your own kind. Who have you trusted? Which religious leaders? Which political leaders? To which teachers have you entrusted your belief system? Have they told you how to examine what they say to ensure it is of God so you can follow them only as they follow Christ?
There is another kind (Matt 24:11; 1 John 4:1). They need your vote. They appear to be shepherds of the trusting sheep; but in actuality they would be devourers of your flesh (Matt 7:15). Why? Why would one devour another? Answer: They desire what could only be had at the expense of another, at another’s downfall or hurt, even at their death or loss of eternal life. Regardless, considering the consequences others will suffer will not prevent their coveting, nor their taking all they covet (John 10:11-12). They will not surrender their lives to God. They do not love.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered or irritable, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails . . .”
1 Cor 13:4-8a
What is being produced in you? Are you being heard? Are you being valued as an individual? Are you better for having listened, for paying heed, for having followed the instructions you are given? If yes, you are being loved.
Are you being introduced to your God, to your Savior Jesus Christ in a way that you can bless Him, and give Him thanks and glory for all anyone else ever does for you? Are you seeing and receiving His love through faithful conduits? Are His resources being shared with you? If yes, you are being loved.
Are you being told the truth about your eternal soul, even when your natural flesh does not want to agree with change, and when you may desert the bearer of the word of God? Were you taught how to love others truly? Did your hearing or reading prompt you to repent of harboring ill will toward others, to seek reconciliation, to admit any wrongdoing and change your fruit to good? You are being loved.
Are you and your family given consideration equal to theirs—is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness within your reach? Is your health being taken care of? Are you growing in prosperity as they are growing in prosperity? You are being loved.
Are you forgiven for your faults when you repent? Are you supported to obey God’s commandments, and encouraged not to rebel against Him? Are your gifts celebrated, and are you supported to use the gifts God has given you for His glory? Are you encouraged to seek and to follow God’s calling on your life? Are you being trained in your calling? Are you being empowered to win souls? Is knowledge being shared with you? Do you know your worth to God? Are you given responsibility in His Kingdom? You are being loved.
Or . . .
Or, are you torn down or humiliated? This is not love.
Are you encouraged to be unfaithful, incontinent, unbelieving, envious, discouraged, confused? Do you feel separated from God after receiving the fruit of any particular “tree”? Or were you justified in wrongdoing and told you were fine as you are—no change required, no work to do on your inner being? What about any of this made you feel good, and in what way? Examine closely.
Are your gifts undervalued and not used to win souls and bless the Body of Christ? Are you discouraged from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Are you told there are other ways to Heaven than Jesus Christ? Is your calling despised without prayer for your individual situation? Are you learning to fast and pray and seek God for your path to HIM?
Are your physical needs being denied which could result in a shorter life for the sake of money, using Jesus’ Name? Are you being sold an idealism in which you would be the borrower and not the lender, and the tail and not the head (Deut 28:43-44)? Are you becoming poorer and poorer and more fearful in every way? This is not love.
To walk after the Spirit is to look to, seek passionately after, desire, be single-mindedly concerned toward the spiritual things of God in the SPIRITUAL DIMENSION and LOVE. When this is our desire we will then be healthy trees which produce Godly fruit from our Godly Source of nourishment.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
After eating good fruit you will have received nutritious benefits. For example, after eating fresh fruit I notice a difference in energy level. Vision is clearer and sharper. Skin glows. Organics (free of the well-intended man-made doctrines designed to kill outward manifestations of sin that often kill the spirit of liberty as well) are even more purely beneficial. We need the healthiest, which provides the most benefits.
What does your fruit contain? The fruit you receive—is it raw and full of fiber and nutrients? Or is it highly processed and so full of sugar designed so you will like the taste better (actually, so that you will buy). The highly processed, full-of-sugar fruit drinks, for example, contain unnatural additives that make it more palatable to one whose taste is accustomed to smooth flatteries, sugared up. The fiber is removed for those with no tolerance for the healthy. When the fiber is removed from fruit, it passes easily through your system—in and out it goes. It was tasty and sweet, but left little benefit. Though it was pleasant you were barely nourished. Our souls are left empty as a result of tampered-with, sugared-up, what-used-to-be fruit. This is profitable for the seller (temporarily), but at the expense of the health of the buyer. This is not love.
Taste for the healthy can easily be acquired with enough fervent desire for what is good and right for our bodies, minds and spirits. I often went to the smoothie bar at the health food store and sat and talked to the raw food vegans who worked there—just to “pick up some of their spirit.” It worked. I began to eat a healthier diet and to like it. We, as spiritual beings, impart what we are to others. God is ready and waiting for us to ask for His help to acquire the right tastes, to make us willing to hear and to receive what we have been putting off. Let us not wait until our spiritual, social, emotional, and physical health has failed. Though even then God works miracles for the repentant.
Fiber is bulky and tends to make us feel full. Jesus said that the evil of THIS present date is sufficient for today (Matt 6:34). When we take in fibrous fruit, we receive considerably enough suggestive material to THIS day work with, to aid the cleaning out of our spiritual systems today. Fibrous fruit with roughage intact requires more time to chew or to “consider.” We must chew or meditate on good, fibrous fruit a bit longer than when drinking a fruit drink from which the fiber has been removed. Fiber is also called “roughage,” as it roughs through your system to help clean it out what should not stay there. There are many benefits to a higher fiber diet. We are caused to seek more forcefully while digesting, but eliminating toxins and waste is much more efficient.
To our benefit, when seeking more adamantly for the fruit of the Spirit, a love for the fruit, the taste for the fruit itself will become the enjoyment of the fruit eater. Others who do not prefer healthy fruit will wonder why and how one likes such a healthy diet. These may be called holier-than-thou and possibly misunderstood. But in truth, the acquiring of a holy taste is a side effect, an unexpected benefit, and a reward from God to those who seek after the Spirit.
Scripture teaches us that ignorance destroys (Hos 4:6); and we desire to live and to live more abundantly (John 10:10), so let us learn how to examine the fruits of righteousness. When someone makes the claim that they are “real,” people often take their statement as truth, even when their fruit shows otherwise.
It has been made available to us to learn to be picky and discerning concerning what fruit we will or will not buy. There is much confusion and misunderstanding which causes destruction of individual lives, families, and communities. Remember: There will be a great falling away (2 Thes 2:3); and many hearts will turn cold.
There are people who want definitively to know good from evil always because consequences will reach out and touch those whom ignorance destroy (Hos 4:6). When one follows another headed toward the ditch they too shall fall in. When we walk after the spirit we shall not produce or exhibit the manifestation of the fleshly realm, which are concerned only with the here and now and not eternity. The produce of the flesh are abnormal and harmful and produce and spread diseases of the mind and heart which lead to micro to macro social decay.
The minister’s job is to teach the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, though it is sometimes rough to receive, The Father loves you enough to care about your progress and prune your branches. Do not despise good teaching, but know good sound teaching is Our Father’s Love from above. Cherish His Love with all your heart and follow Him totally and you will be healthy, wealthy and wise.