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Bearing Fruit

Have you ever seen a fruit tree in full bloom? It's a beautiful sight to see! But what determines how much fruit a tree bears? Does a tree just decide to bear beautiful fruit and then try hard to make it happen? Of course not. The fruit naturally blooms when the tree is well-rooted and properly nourished. It doesn't have to try at all. Bearing fruit is a natural outcome of its environment.

In this week's reading, we encounter one of Paul's most famous passages in the book of Galatians as he writes about the fruit of the Spirit:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."
(Galatians 5:22-23)

We would all readily agree that we want to see this type of fruit in our lives. But how do we get it? For many of us, our first instinct is to simply try harder. We try to be a little more loving, we try to be a little more patient, we try to be a little kinder... only to end up right back where we started from. Why is that? Well, there is a difference between a change in behavior and transformation. We may be able to temporarily change our behavior with our own will power, but only the Holy Spirit can transform our hearts.

Just like a tree, we can't bear fruit just by willing ourselves to make it happen. We need to stop trying to bear fruit on our own and simply abide in Jesus. This is a reality that Jesus spoke of in His teachings: "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me." (John 15:4) Our call is not to bear fruit, but to abide in Jesus, the vine.

There are many ways that we can abide in the Lord, such as prayer, fasting, solitude, and worship -- to name just a few. But there is a danger in thinking that these activities are the catalyst for our transformation. If we think that our ability to bear fruit is based upon practicing spiritual disciplines, all we have done is create an elaborate form of self-help. Instead, we ought to think of these spiritual disciplines as postures to abide in the Lord and receive His grace. We must always remember that it is the work of the Holy Spirit that transforms us.

Finally, we must remember that bearing fruit takes time. A tree doesn't bear fruit on the first day of spring, and it might take some time for us to truly see new fruit in our lives. Sometimes, the Lord needs to prune us first, ridding us of our old ways before we can bear any meaningful fruit. If we stop trying to transform ourselves and use that time an energy to abide in Jesus, beautiful fruit will naturally bloom in our lives.

~ Matt Kooi

November 11th Readings
ACTS 10:1-12:5

November 12th Readings
ACTS 12:6-14:20

November 13th Readings
ACTS 14:21-28
GALATIANS 1:1-3:23

November 14th Readings
GALATIANS 3:24-6:18
ACTS 15:1-21

November 15th Readings
ACTS 15:22-17:15

November 16th Readings
ACTS 17:16-18:3

November 17th Readings
ACTS 18:4-23