As the summer progresses, those of us who are gardeners eagerly anticipate the different crops that come from our gardens as they are due to bear fruit.
The early crops of lettuce and radishes and peas are relished as much as the later crops of sweet corn and tomatoes. We look for them in their season. We know when we should expect each fruit from the garden. To be deprived of the fruit that we expect as a return from the labor we invested in the garden is a bitter disappointment.
In Scripture the Lord frequently uses this picture of bearing fruit in connection with His kingdom, encouraging us in our faith life. At the conclusion of the parable of the vinedressers, Jesus declared to the unbelieving Jews: “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing fruits of it” (Mt. 21:43).
It is by the grace of God that we, the believers in Christ Jesus, are this holy nation–God’s own special people, created and called by God to show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
He has called us into the light of the gospel. The gospel of God’s love and forgiveness is a reality only because of the investment of the blood of His Son, which God made in our behalf to save us from the unfruitfulness of sin. He made this investment out of pure, undeserved love for us sinners.
The fruit that He desires is that we live in this love and show forth this salvation in word and deed before the world. So the apostle Paul encourages us: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Php. 1:9-11).
As we, through the study of the Word, grow in knowledge and Christian judgment, we will be led by the Spirit to be involved in those things which are pleasing to God. These fruits of righteousness appear at different times and in different circumstances in our lives.
At one time it may be the fruit of witnessing the gospel to the unbeliever or to one straying from the faith. At another time it may be kind acts for a Christian brother or sister in distress, as Paul was encouraging in the epistle to the Philippians. At another time it may be our study of the Word, or our worship, or our prayers of thanksgiving and supplication for others. At another time it may be the avoiding of this world’s sin and fleeing temptation.
Always the fruits of righteousness are to the praise of the glory of God. These are the fruits of faith, the fruits of repentance, the fruits which the Lord anticipates from the vineyard of His kingdom.
Even as we find a certain joy and satisfaction in the fruits of our garden, even so the fruits of righteousness bring joy–a far greater joy–to our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
–Pastor Theodore Barthels