Are you more of an apple kind of person, or a pear? Perhaps an orange or kiwi, or maybe even one of those lemon types? What does the fruit of your life have to say about your future?
The book Claiming Christ raised this issue in the latest chapter about whether or not salvation involves gifts or rewards. But one of the points addressed the concept that “you shall know them by their fruits”–a statement by God, that indicates that fruits can tell our fortunes.
Have you thought about that before? There is something emanating from your life that is said to be capable of revealing hidden things; something that speaks volumes about what is behind-the-scenes as well as what is coming in the next scene. And, unlike witchcraft, voodoo, or other deceptive practices, this fruit is acceptable by God for use by Christians in looking into the future.
As effective as fruit can be in assessing ourselves and those around us, they are not a fool-proof way of measuring. Fruit can be misinterpreted. Pointing out our good deeds, or our religious activity, or our long list of ministry participation, or the many short-term mission trips we supported, or all the people we healed or brought to faith, ultimately is empty boasting and not biblical fruit. Consider those who complained against the Lord’s rejection of their salvation, by touting their amazing good works done in his name, like preaching and casting out demons. Jesus’ response was “but I never knew you”. They got their fruit mixed up with the veggie tray.
The perfect system is evidenced by God looking into our hearts. That exposes the truth better than an atomic microscope. However, that doesn’t work for humans. We can’t look into our own motives that deeply, let alone assess the godliness of others with that kind of precision. Instead, God says that it is by the evidence of fruitfulness from a persons actions and lifestyle choices that we become capable of making reasonable assessments.
By looking for biblically valid fruit, we have a way of reviewing reliability and truth. It often takes time, and in some cases repeated observations, but eventually, God says that the truth will surface as a by-product of our lives. At the end of the day, a good tree can only ever produce good fruit, and a bad tree bad fruit. Such fruit can be measured in ourselves, and it can also be measured–in fact God commands that we measure it–in those around us, especially those who profess to minister in God’s name.
This is not a prescription for skepticism or judgmentalness, for love always inclines toward giving the benefit of the doubt, but it says that we will be held accountable for how we respond to the evidence coming from the fruit. The fruit will always show itself when the season is ripe. The question is whether or not we will take notice and adjust our orientation accordingly.
Whether in ourselves or in others, God announces his own judgment against not only those who live contrary to Scripture, but also against those who recognize the plastic fruit of others but do nothing to separate from them. That kind of toleration is condemned because we were capable of recognizing the blighted fruit and chose instead to relationally accept it (Rom 1:32).
Biblical fruit is principally about how our choices reflect godliness. If our efforts, interests, and contributions manifest the character of Jesus, then we are likely offering juicy fruit. If instead, they show religious activity and the same kind of worldly benevolence that can be found in those absent of the Holy Spirit, then in spite of whatever good those actions might appear to produce, they are void of eternal fruit. They may appear to many to have shiny colored globules hanging from their branches, but it is all for show.
In the end, as Jesus indicated though his parable of separating the sheep from the goats, it will be the fruit extending from our actions and choices in this life that will give proof of our futures. Many are familiar with the Apostle Paul’s teaching that Christians are saved by faith and not by works, but few understand that teaching in context. The works don’t produce salvation, but they do reveal the health of the tree. For that reason, this is what Paul had to say in his most significant letter involving the doctrine of salvation:
“God will give to each person according to what he has done” (Rom 2:6).
What you and I do will be measured according to the fruit we produce. If our efforts display godliness, then we are commended. If they show selfishness, then we are being warned. When Christ dwells unrestricted within us, then our choices will reflect his presence in our fruit. We will be rewarded, not according to what we do of ourselves, but according to how our actions and choices reflect the evidence of our faith in Christ.
Fruit will tell our fortune.
What does your fruit say about you and your claim of Christ?