A tree is known by its fruit
By Brooke Stacia Demott
I say orchard because that makes me sound like I know what I’m doing. But really, it’s just 10 trees.
When we picked them up, our farmer friend gave us detailed instructions about how to keep the trees healthy during the next three crucial years. They would require a lot of care and cultivating in order to bear good fruit.
Only a healthy tree can bring forth good fruit. Although many factors contribute to a tree’s health, the most critical are the quality of the soil and the strength of the root system.
Strong roots must be established over time in good soil before any worthwhile harvest can be expected.
Consequently, if the soil is poor, or the tree has weak roots, then no amount of sun and rain can save it — inevitably, it will fail to thrive.
We aren’t much different.
Where we are “rooted” determines whether we thrive or struggle. Far too often when we are struggling, we don’t understand the cause, and so we resort to treating symptoms.
We line up for depression meds, kill ourselves at the gym, painstakingly manage our diet, and try to eliminate stress looking for lasting fulfillment. Addressing our physical and emotional health is a no-brainer; but it’s not enough. We need to fix our attention on our spiritual condition.
Nothing is more important than our spirituality. Why? Because everything we do is filtered through what we put our faith in.
How we care for our bodies, treat our kids, love our spouse, work, and relax — it all depends on what our “god” is. Whatever we chase after to give us meaning, this is our “god.”
Today’s world offers a host of “gods” to choose from — instant gratification, sex, technology, optimal physical fitness, and money, to name a few. And each one fails to deliver the happiness they promise.
There’s only one God who promises abundant life — and delivers. If we are rooted in Jesus, the son of God, everything in our lives centers around God’s direction and life starts to make sense.
Like my apple trees, if our spirits are fixed in good soil, they will be healthy; and a healthy spirit will bear fruit that is good for us in every respect. We will be happier, more productive, healthier, and a benefit to our families and community.
So, what does good spiritual fruit look like?
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)
This is evidence of a healthy spirit. If we “bear good fruit,” our lives will be transformed. Good fruit takes cultivating; but when cultivation falls by the wayside, we can be easily overtaken.
Last summer, Japanese beetles swarmed our plum tree. There were so many that the leaves looked iridescent in the sunset. I was busy with the kids’ schedules, so I didn’t give it the attention it needed. The leaves got chewed to pieces. It made the most pitiful, sour plums you’ve ever tasted — they were terrible.
In the same way, a neglected spirit will produce bad fruit.
What is bad spiritual fruit?
“Sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” (Galatians 5:20-21)
Big difference. Bad fruit is evidence of an unhealthy spirit. This list probably isn’t shocking to you; and in our desensitized, desire-driven culture, we might be tempted to think that there aren’t going to be ramifications for these actions. But don’t be fooled. We will reap what we sow, and sowing in this soil produces a harvest of bitter regret.
Why? Because this fruit eats you. It will wear away at your soul until you don’t know who you are anymore.
In the coming months, I want to take a look at the good fruit that a healthy spirit can produce, and the bad fruit that will come without proper cultivation.
To do this, we must understand that God loves us. He loves you. As the creator and sustainer of life, He is both the good soil and the gardener.
He will nourish our spirits and prune the bad fruit from our lives, if we would only ask. For Jesus’s sake, God will bring to fruition in us the stunning harvest of an abundant life — one full of peace and purpose, hope and joy.
So ask yourself: What is the “fruit” of your life?
Where are you rooted?
• Brooke Stacia Demott is a columnist with In Good Health newspaper. Got a question for Demott? Feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.