"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5 NKJV)
Sometimes we grow impatient in our lives when we don't see the spiritual growth we would like to see. But an important thing to remember about spiritual fruit is that it doesn't grow overnight. It takes time. If I were to plant a peach tree on Monday, I could scarcely expect to enjoy fresh peach cobbler on Friday. It takes time for peaches to reach their full size. I could pull up a chair, sit down, and wait for the peaches to grow, but I still would not see any discernible difference. Even though I can't see it at the time, that fruit is still growing toward maturity.
Another reason we may not see spiritual fruit in our lives is because we don't recognize it as such. Let's take a look at several definitions from the New Testament of what it means to "bear fruit."
Winning others to Jesus Christ and helping them grow spiritually is one form of spiritual fruit. Paul wrote to his friends in Rome, "Often I have planned to come to you...that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles" (Romans 1:13 NKJV). We also read in Proverbs 11:30 that "the fruit of the righteous is the tree of life, and he that wins souls is wise" (NKJV).
Sharing what God has blessed us with is a way of bearing fruit. When Paul received an offering from the Gentiles for the saints in Jerusalem who were in need, he referred to that offering as fruit: "Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain" (Romans 15:28 NKJV, emphasis mine). When I take my finances and invest them through my tithes and offerings, it will result in fruit to my account (Philippians 4:17). Let me add that if your Christianity does not affect your pocketbook, then one has to question how much your Christianity has affected you. It should permeate every area of your life.
Praising and thanking God is another type of spiritual fruit. When we lift our voices in praise to God, it's an offering of fruit to Him. The Bible tells us, "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15 NKJV). You should not be a spectator when it comes to worship. You should engage, because it is offering fruit to the Lord.
Last, our change in conduct and character is fruit. Galatians 5:22–23 tells us, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (NIV). These virtues should be a part of every believer's life. But again, they don't become visible overnight. It takes time for this fruit to grow. Be patient, and sink your roots deeply into the person of Jesus Christ.
One Sunday morning after a service, I began talking with a group of guys who were all brothers. I was pleased to learn that one Christian brother had recently led each of them to the Lord. As we discussed their newfound faith in Christ, I told them, "Just keep moving forward spiritually, because the moment you start relaxing is the moment you start falling back. But if you keep at it and keep applying yourselves to the basic disciplines of spiritual growth, then you will continue to flourish and bring forth fruit."
Whether you've been a Christian for six months, like these brothers, or for six decades, you must continue moving forward in your spiritual walk. God help you and me to fulfill the purpose for which He has created us. May we glorify Him by bringing forth fruit in our lives as we become more like Jesus Christ.
If you could go back and give your younger self some advice, what would it be? Pastor Greg Laurie has been giving that some thought. And Wednesday on A NEW BEGINNING, he offers some serious advice for the young, and young at heart.