I love to garden and I see many ways in which growing as a Christian and bearing fruit is like the life of a plant. Jeremiah expressed similar thoughts:
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD
And whose trust is the LORD.
For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit. (Jer. 17:7-8)
My first task in the spring is to deal with the weeds of winter—I uproot them and throw them away. Once I have dug compost into the soil, I am ready to plant the starter seedlings. So long as they have a root, they will survive. Plants are resilient, unless pests or new weeds interfere, the rain, sun, and soil nutrients produce growth and a harvest. Zucchinis are a good example of almost explosive growth and inevitable abundant fruit.
When we begin to follow Jesus, we are like a seedling. Repentance from sin is like the removal of the accumulated weeds. We make a fresh start in life. Growing as a Christian is quite natural; it is God’s plan for us and He gives us all the help we need for bearing fruit. But we must guard our root and keep our leaves to the sun.
By roots, I mean a system of nourishment. The root is hidden away, unglamorous, but essential to growth. We receive spiritual nourishment when God speaks to us through the Bible and through prayer and in times of worship. It comes in our individual times with Him and through meaningful relationship with other Christians.
One reason God calls us into local churches is because that is where our growth (or lack of it) becomes visible. In meaningful relationships, who we really are becomes clear. The outward expressions of our inner life are like the shoots of a plant. Are they healthy, or faded and disfigured? Is my life becoming more like Jesus’ life or not? One mark of growth is our willingness to forgive others when they hurt or offend us. Do we live life to serve and bless others? Our choices should increasingly reflect godly thinking.
None of us is ever free from sin; sometimes we succumb to temptation. When God shows us our sin, we need to repent and receive His forgiveness—like weeding the garden. We should guard against new sinful habits just as we are vigilant against invading pests. If we guard our roots and shoots and deal with sin, God will bear fruit through us—it’s as inevitable as zucchinis.
The fruit of the Christian life includes our character—what the Bible calls the fruit of the Spirit.1 Fruit is also the result of our service to others. When we pray for people, care for them, counsel them, and encourage them, or when we share the good news of Jesus with an unbeliever, the fruit of a changed life can result. Bearing fruit happens every time we help someone to grow as a disciple of Jesus, just as we have grown.
So, let’s stop striving! Practice the basic disciplines of the Christian life, trust God, and enjoy bearing fruit.
Anyone want some zucchinis?
Please share this devotion with others who might be blessed.
- Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). [↩]