I love the produce department at the grocery store. It’s full of colors and textures. There are piles of just-ripe oranges and pretty see-through containers of any kind of berry you could want. Displays are round and square and triangular. It smells fresh. Sometimes if you inhale just right there’s a snap of citrus for the sinuses.
The biggest bummer about the produce department is that there are seasons. I could buy blackberries right now, but only if I want to break the bank. And if I want a ruby red grapefruit in the middle of the summer, I’m gonna pay. I live in America. I can get what crazy outlandish fruit I want, when I want it, but it may be four times the price or traveled across miles to overripeness, because fruit can’t be controlled by my desires and whims.
God’s fruit is unlike the fruit at the supermarket. It doesn’t have a season or region. It just is. But like the fruit at the store, I can’t make it happen for me just whenever I want it. I can’t demand what I want and get exactly that. Fruit grows when and where it will, based on God’s plans. Still, God does promise we will never be without His fruit, because it is of His Spirit. This week, we’ll discover all kinds of tidbits about God’s fruit in us. James highlights a few different fruits in particular that come from a God who plants Himself in us to water and grow and build up one another in all we do.
Turn to James 2:17-20, to remember a discourse central to James’s viewpoint of fruit.
17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?
The word written work in our translation is from the Greek root word ergon– an action that carries with it the desire within. It’s not just work, it’s work done with purpose. It’s work done with the knowledge of the Creator. This is one reason we call it fruit. It’s the natural growth of the tree planted and watered by Christ in our baptisms, as we read the Word and worship together.
Our work is steadfast because He is steadfast. Our work is a sure thing, because He is as certain as the sun, and more so. Look back at James 1:17. Just how certain and sure is our Creator and Lord?
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
The physical manifestation of His steadfastness in us creates doers. Look at Matthew 7:24-25 for a passage that shares what the fruit of a steadfast doer looks like:
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
We don’t just change with shifting shadows either. Let’s honor that for a moment. Thank goodness for security in Christ when everything else seems to be crumbling around us.
That said, we are sinners. We can surely separate ourselves from the Word, whether by avoiding opening it or listening with one ear closed. Then it becomes harder, not impossible, mind you, but harder to be doers of the Word, producing bountiful fruit. How do fruit trees do in a drought? Not so well, I hear.
Jesus puts all the pieces together. Read Luke 3:8 –
8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.
While Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees here, James is also calling out our pharisaical tendencies.
The secret to fruit is repentance.
Whether we can see the fruit of God in us or not, whether we feel like the produce department at the grocery store or the dried and cracking field of a too hot, too dry summer, we simply turn to Him in repentance every day.
Lord, I have failed to love You and Your Word most. Lord, I have hurt others and put myself first so many times. Lord, open my heart to hear You, follow You, and know You more each day.
Christ is faithful. The Spirit in us is steadfast, not a shifting shadow. Forgiveness is His primary fruit that brings Life and Salvation and is that which all other fruits come from. In taking the time to admit our sin, we can be more aware of the work He is doing in our lives on any given day. Look- He offered forgiveness when I yelled at my kids. Look- He offered forgiveness when I avoided my neighbor. Look He offered forgiveness when…you fill in the blank.
Repentance keeps us steadfast in the Spirit, turning back, turning back, and turning back again and again to a God who loves us.
Let Him work that fruit of forgiveness and see what comes from it, friends. The grocery store produce section holds nothing on God’s bounty of abundant Life.
What is your favorite fruit to pick up at the supermarket?
When have you seen Him stay steady and faithful when the world seems to waver?
What repentance can you offer today, privately or with a friend or study group for accountability? What fruit do you think He can bring from that situation when forgiveness enters the picture?