By, Isam Itson III
Matthew 21: 43-44 – “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
I love fruit. Peaches, pears, apples, oranges, lemons, plums, cherries, mangoes, papayas, pomegranates, etc… The funny thing about fruit trees is that they only produce their best fruit once per year. Most of the time fruit trees are indistinguishable to the untrained eye. I don’t know an apple tree from a cherry tree. But I do know that under the right circumstances and at the right time, the type of tree I am looking at will become self-evident. An apple tree will produce apples. A cherry tree will produce cherries. I just have to be patient. I have to nurture the life of the tree and the fruit will come in its best time.
According to Galatians 5:22, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. The effect of God’s Spirit operating in and through our lives is that people find peace with God, healing from the wounds of life, and contentment in relationship with others. We will be prone to being forgiving and to asking for forgiveness. We will recognize that God’s grace is the only hope for the world. We will understand that Jesus Christ is the only one with the power to deliver us from the chaos and destruction of sin and death. All to the glory of God and in humble gratitude for God’s grace toward us in Jesus Christ.
Submission to God and the joyful, grateful reception of his mercy and forgiveness overflows into the lives of those around us. In the process we start acting more and more like Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, from time to tine, all followers of Jesus Christ lose sight of this basic truth. We begin focusing on our good works and our moral uprightness as the measure of our faithfulness to God. We forget that our work is meant to produce fruit. We start viewing our work as an end in itself. We go to church and read our bibles and pray as a matter of routine. We forget that we are nurturing our relationship with God. We forget that we are spending time with God. We begin to think that we are holy because we do all of the right things. We forget that God makes us holy. We do not make ourselves holy. The best we can do is remember that God has made us holy and to thank God that he has set us apart for himself because he loves us.
This outlook will help us to stop judging “sinners” who are leading our country to hell in a handbasket. If someone does not know God, how can they see God and learn to believe in God? How can they produce anything but fruits keeping with unbelief? In our frustration we often forget that without faith it is impossible to please God. And to please God we must believe that He exists and that he is good and merciful to those who cry out to Him. They need to see God, and God wants to use us to reveal himself to them.
So let’s commit to cultivating attitudes and actions that express kindness and gentleness to those who are lost and perishing. Let’s give credit to God as the source of our good fortune and theirs. This is the fruit of a righteous life. And it is the only hope people have of seeing God at work in their lives through their relationship with us. We want people to be embraced by God’s love, not crushed by the weight of our indignation. God hates that.