|Volume 20 Number 2 February 2018||
Mark T. Tonkery
One of my joys is my garden and my blueberry patch, which produce vegetables and fruit. After cultivating, planting, fighting weeds, watering and feeding my plants, it is nice to see some of that hard work pay off. This is the reward for working so hard with these plants—to get to the point of harvest.
The goal of the Christian life is to grow to the point where we are bearing godly fruit. In Matthew 12:33, Jesus stated, “a tree is known by its fruit.” The illustration Jesus used causes us to understand that His followers are to produce fruit or works that show that they are living for Him. In Matthew 7:18, Jesus reminded that “a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit.” Therefore, Jesus expects His followers to do good and to not do evil.
The apostle Paul continued to use this word picture of fruit bearing in the Christian life by describing it in Galatians 5:22-23 as the fruit of the Spirit. Most Bible translations translate the Greek word, karpos, as “fruit.” However, the NEB translates this word as “harvest,” the “harvest of the Spirit.” So, those who “live by the Spirit” will harvest or produce the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. In other words, the Christian will bear fruit or have a character that looks like Christ in his life, which is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Just as a tree is known by its fruit, so will Christians be known by the fruit in their lives.
Paul contrasted the fruit of the Spirit with the works of the flesh, or sin, in Galatians 5:19-21, by saying, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Someone observed, “The fruit of the Spirit cannot be separated as the works of the flesh are. The fruit of the Spirit stands or falls together. The fruit is a singular term. It all comes together in one package.” The fruit of the Spirit and the works of the flesh are really the only two types of fruit or works we will bear. We can either live our lives according to the principles of the Word of God and let Jesus Christ be the center of our lives, or we can live our lives as though God does not exist.
[Editor’s Note: There is no middle between fruit of the Spirit and being disapproved by God. Christians produce fruit, or they are not approved by God. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
Ernest S. Underwood
In Proverbs 7:22 we read, “Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks.” The ox is stupid and cannot help his condition, but not so with the fool.
The world of advertising tells the young person to “live life to the fullest,” meaning, “indulge yourself in every sensual and depraved activity.” “This,” we’re told, “is what life is all about.” The movies and television, the song writers of today, all subscribe to this attitude. It is the attitude of stupidity and fools. Solomon also addressed young people. He said, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth…” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). The way in which some are walking is the way of fools, which leads to eternal destruction. The other way is the road to eternal life. Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Are you as stupid as the ox—a Fool? Or, are you walking in reverence and respect for God?