I wandered out to the garden this morning. My poor garden has been neglected this year. Life has just gotten in the way and I haven’t tended to it like I should. It desperately needs to be weeded and fertilized. Despite that, my plants look really good. They are tall and green and look like they should be loaded with good stuff to eat. The tomatoes didn’t disappoint…I have lots of green ones that my children are begging me to pick and fry. The other plants, though? Not so much. The pepper plant is almost as tall as me (no comments!) but has only produced one little pepper. The squash plants are big with huge blooms, but just haven’t produced the squash I was expecting. We won’t be frying up a big mess of squash outta that garden! So, despite the fact that my garden is beautiful, it’s almost useless. Hmm….remind you of any “Christians” you know?
In Kid City (our children’s church) we’re starting to study the fruit of the spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;” NASB. Matthew 7:18 says “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.” NASB. Okay, so that means a tree is good if it’s producing good stuff and it’s bad if it produces nothing or produces bad stuff. Let’s translate that into people. John 15:5-8 says
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory,that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. NIV
In other words, as Christians, we’re no different from my garden. It simply doesn’t matter how good we look, how many scriptures we know by memory, how many times we go to church or what position we hold in the church. If we’re not producing good fruit, we’re useless in God’s kingdom. And, as I’ve heard a friend of mine point out more than once, you can not make yourself produce good fruit. If you have to try to be full of joy, love, peace, etc., then you’re just not plugged into the main vine….Jesus. Now, I’m not talking about those off days when you’ve got your head in your hands wondering where God is….we all have those days! I’m talking about the big picture. When others think of you, do they think you are joyful? peaceful? loving? gentle? kind? Or do others see an angry, scared person spouting scriptures and being mean in the name of Jesus?
For me, it all comes back to that one thing. Love. In fact, John 15 goes on to say “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (v. 9-13). Ah….yep…see….it all comes back to love!
If you’re reading this and find yourself lacking, the answer is simple. Jesus. Fall at His feet. Read His Word. Spend time basking in His goodness. And then love others with the love He has shown you. As for me….I think I’d better get some Miracle Gro on my squash!
Be blessed and tell someone that you love them. Better yet, show them!