Galatians 5:22-23a are without doubt the first verses which are quoted when one asks about Christian fruit: “the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control.” Or as Ephesians 5:9 says along the same lines, “for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.” These are the fruit by which born-again Christians are to be recognised. Jesus tells us this in John 15:2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away. And every one that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bring forth more fruit.” For those who are not in Christ, those who are not branches of the vine, Jesus is also very clear: “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered. And they gather and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
Christians are required to live a life which bears fruit and if we do not bear fruit, we will be cut away! Those who do bear fruit will also be cut – or selectively pruned, to be exact – in order that we will produce bountifully, even more fruit for Him.
As bearers of fruit, we are called not to be proud. Jesus reminds us in John 15:16 “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and ordained you that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatever you shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it to you.”
The fruit which Christians are required to produce can be grouped into four (4) categories:
The Fruit of Character :-
Galatians 5:22-23a “But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control.”
Romans 6:22 “But now, being made free from sin, and having become slaves to God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end everlasting life.”
Paul, the writer of Romans and Galatians, clearly tells us that born-again Christians are required to change their character and align it with that of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are to work to be more Christlike – and one of the areas where we will be judged is in our character. We must bear the fruit described here.
The Fruit of Conversion :-
Romans 1:13 “But I would not have you ignorant, brothers, that oftentimes I purposed to come to you, and was kept back until the present; that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other nations.”
This requirement for the Fruit of Conversion, falls upon all Christians as do the changes to our character with which we are more familiar. Paul is asking here of his disciples and followers, that he (Paul) might have some fruit – fruit from his ministerial labours, as he had already received from the many churches he had planted and watered among the other gentiles. As he expected the fruit of conversion from them, by interpretation, he expects the same fruit from us too. The Fruit of Conversion is the expansion of the Church of Christ, meaningful progress in the execution of the Great Commission. It is teaching the next generation as we ourselves were taught. It is a demonstration of love in action for the Church and words of the Bible.
The Fruit of Dedication and Good Works :–
Romans 15:28 “Therefore when I have completed this, and have sealed this fruit to them, I will come by you into Spain.”
Colossians 1:10 “that you might walk worthy of the Lord to all pleasing, being fruitful in every work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
The Fruit of Dedication and Good Works comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Our worthy dedication to others and to our own increasing in the knowledge of God, is rightfully expected of us. But we need to be clear here: our dedication and good works are not our way of redemption, but a sign of our redemption; a sign of changes within us which are revealed by the fruit we bear. Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us of this “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” No, we are not to boast in our works, for they did not save us. But we are to be judged, so we must change and continue to change. It is a life long journey of change.
The Fruit of Praise :-
Hebrews 13:15 “By Him, then, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, confessing His name.”
The Fruit of Praise comes continually and effortlessly from those who are in Christ and in whom the Holy Spirit dwells. Paul’s words here are reminiscent of the Prophet Hosea’s words from Hosea 14:2 “Think about what you will say, and come back to the Lord. Say to him, “Take away our sin, and accept these words as our sacrifice. We offer you the praise from our lips.” The repentant and redeemed Christian who is in Christ feels an inward need to praise. In this outward manifestation of their change, they can be recognised as being children of the Living God.
Acts 4:13 describes how those around the disciples clearly recognised the changes in the disciples Peter and John: “But seeing the boldness of Peter and John, and perceiving that they were unlearned and uneducated men, they marvelled. And they recognized them, that they had been with Jesus.” As fishermen, Peter and John were comparatively uneducated men, yet, by sitting at the feet of Jesus they were educated in His Kingdom ways and changed. Their change was so dramatic and unique, it was instantly recognisable and in a class of its own. They were changed because “they had been with Jesus” and this simple fact was clear for all to see.
We, as born-again Christians, are also called to change just as Peter and John changed and to portray the changes externally as they did, such that Christ is glorified. The changes in Peter and John were supernatural, not of their own work, and those who saw them could recognise this. We must do the same. We must be transformed, made more Christlike. It is required of us. For as Paul says in Romans 2:12 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.” By our fruit, we are judged.
Amen and Amen.