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  • James Stegall

Being Known by Our Fruit

The realities of our hearts are manifested in our daily lives. If our heart is full of anger, joy, jealousy, or peace, we will manifest those realities in our behaviors. This past Sunday, we enjoyed our penultimate weekend in the Sermon on the Mount together. A part of what we studied was the reality of trees and their fruit as seen in Matthew 7:15-20. After looking at the immediate interpretation of being wary of prophets, teachers, and ministers or people, in general, being wolves in sheep’s clothing, deceiving those that they are “serving,” I posed a question: What kind of fruit is your life bearing? For better or worse, we are producing fruit (actions, behaviors, etc.) that testify to the world what is within us. For those who are children of God, his ambassadors in this world, bearing fruits of righteousness provide a witness to the Kingdom of God in a land filled with darkness.

The most well-known passage that portrays this truth is potentially Paul’s teaching on the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. The fruit of the Spirit are examples of the ways that the Holy Spirit manifests his life through ours as we follow his lead. As we abide in him and walk in his ways, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc. begin to blossom in our lives, just as flowers that are cared for and tended well. Jesus also tells us that the world will know that we are his disciples through the evidence of the love we have for one another (John 13:35). How will the world see us and see the character of God in this world? Through the fruit that we bear. The world will be changed not through private beliefs or convictions, nor also through chain emails or fish on the back of our car, but through the outworking of the Spirit in his church.

So, what kind of fruit are we bearing? What kind of an example of God’s kingdom are we giving to the world around us? We are called to be witnesses and living lives of love-filled righteousness that demonstrate the character of God is, in my opinion, the most powerful and practical way that we can accomplish that task. If the fruit is produced in the heart and manifested in our daily lives, the task before the church is ultimately to tend to our hearts and see it conformed to the image of God’s. The way we do this is to abide in him through the spiritual disciplines of spending time in prayer, reading Scripture, worshipping him, and enjoying the family of God in community.

As we spend more time with him, we begin to see our heart and mind change to become more like his. Where we once had anger, we can see kindness. Where we would have once responded to something pridefully, we will now respond with humility. The journey of sanctification is not an easy one, but as we stay on its path we see that it is filled with the joy and freedom that can only be experienced through holiness before God. A holiness that produces fruit, fruit that changes our world.

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