All Posts Tagged ‘fruit


Falling amongst weeds


“And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.” (Luke 8:14 ESV)

As long as I have been a Christian I have feared this part of the parable of the sower, anxious that this is the most likely way in which I’d become entangled by the cares of this world and lose my passion for serving God.

While young, single, self-righteous, with a stable income and no responsibilities, I watched others get married, buy houses, enter mortgage enslavement and become focused on providing for their new families. Friends with seemingly boundless energy for church ministry seemed to have that sapped out of them by settling into middle-class expectations. For some a previously ‘clear’ call from God appeared to be suffocated by the cares of life.

Eventually my turn came around, within a year of getting married we had a baby, mortgage and house. The previously stable employment degenerated into a series of short contracts, forcing me to obsess over finding the next job, a more stable job. My naïve arrogance was shattered by responsibilities, working extra hours to pay the bills and the sleep deprivation that goes with babies.

Weeds were growing not only on our back lawn but in my soul, and fruitfulness withered.

Sometime in the decade since then, a pinch of maturity crept into my life. With the wisdom of experience and simply plodding along, variously straying from and returning to Christ, fresh buds grew on the twisted limbs of my life. The first fruits were small, meagre offerings but after some pruning even this is increasing in yield.

Being pruned hurts, trees like to grow towards warmth, sunshine and water, away from wind and cold. A good gardener knows which branches need to be trimmed to straighten things up and keep the limbs open to increase their yield. If disease is setting in a severe prune back may be needed to prevent it infecting the whole tree. It feels painful to have an external force lop off a rapidly growing, leafy bough that seems full of promise – even if the gardener says he knows what he is doing.

Under God’s hand life can shape us and draw forth fruit.

All of us make mistakes, wrong turns, get stuck in ruts at various times through our lives. From one perspective this is due to our own doing and allows weeds and cares to grow up to choke out gospel fruit. Yet apparently there are olive trees near Jerusalem that were in the garden when Jesus cried out for strength and blood ran from his brow. That is over two thousand years of bearing fruit. That must be a lot of olives! If a Christian consistently walks in Christ even through the cares, stresses and worries of this life, that person will bear fruit.

As you bear fruit through many seasons of life, the overall yield will be much more than you can currently see or even imagine.


Making the best of my time

How many hours have I wasted catching up on blogs, social media and whatever else is new on the internet? Then I find it is very late, my sermon is not yet finished and I’ve not done the dishes either. Why is it that low-priority stuff which could easily wait is given my time at the expense of the immediate and important?

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15–17 ESV)

The section of Ephesians this sentence is taken from discusses the works of darkness in which we should not participate in as Christians. Such things as foolish talk, crude jokes, impurity, coveting, getting drunk, and general unfruitful pursuits. Often in the New Testament the idea of  fruitfulness comes up – our lives are expected to bear fruit for God.

Great, so I’m expected to be fruitful on top of working full time, being a father, a husband, and trying to maintain our house. Where am I supposed to find time to be fruitful?

Godly, organic time management

God’s time-management principles are simple: stop doing pointless and destructive things, replacing them with fruitful pursuits. This is an organic model which fits our humanity better than trying to cram every minute with action and scheduling life in a manner more appropriate to a robot than a person. Jesus talks of pruning unfruitful branches to make the tree as a whole bear more fruit, a principle we can apply to our own lives. Not just adding more stuff to do but cutting away all that is unfruitful so what remains will grow better.

Fruitfulness is also a lifetime assessment – no tree bears any useful fruit in its first few years – in fact God commanded Israel to not eat the fruit of a newly planted tree for 5 years (Leviticus 19:23-25). Similarly, a tree cannot control the seasons or growing conditions around it.

Sometimes life is hard and our focus has to be on survival. Then seasons change and the roots which that down deep seeking living water in order to survive a drought enable great fruitfulness which could have come no other way.

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