[W]hat does picking 6,000 avocados teach you about being a spiritually fruitful person? For starters, climbing ladders, snipping avocado after avocado, and getting on your knees for low-hanging fruit can teach you a lot about being spiritually fruitful…if you’re willing to listen the Master Grower. For the past two days, I’ve been down at our 12 acre organic lemon and avocado grove that is owned by The Grove Center for the Arts & Media, the non-profit ministry I serve. It’s picking season and the trees are covered with fruit. Picking fruit by myself and enjoying the beauty of countryside around me gave me a lot of time to think about my own life. Snipping one avo after another made me wonder, “What would my life be like if I was THIS fruitful?” Read on…
If you’ve never grown avocados, lemons, kumquats or fuyus, you’d first want to get advice from a farming expert who knows exactly what they’re doing. To have an abundant crop, you’d want to follow his or her directions to the “T”. To become a spiritually fruitful person, I suggest you go to Jesus, the Source of Life and Master Grower. In story after story, Jesus used all sorts of farming examples to show us exactly what it takes to become a spiritually fruitful person. Jesus spoke often of seed, soil conditions, weeds, water, harvest, vines, fruit, and how we can produce, not just a little, but an abundance of spiritual fruit of our lives.
In essence, becoming spiritually fruitful begins with God’s initiative and our response. We don’t become spiritually fruitful by causing fruit to grow in our lives anymore than we can stand next to an avocado tree and yell at the fruit, “Grow! Grow, will ya!” We also don’t become spiritually fruitful by saying we are “spiritual” or “religious” any more than walking through an avocado makes us an avocado. Spiritual fruit begins with an authentic relationship with the Father, Son & Holy Spirit–that is the test of true spiritual fruit–God working in your life to produce spiritual fruit.
Next, becoming spiritually fruitful begins with understanding what spiritual fruit or character qualities God desires to cultivate in our lives. The apostle Paul, a former-murderer and persecutor of Christians, described exactly what spiritual fruit looks like when it ripens in our lives. (And if God can make someone spiritually fruitful like Paul, He can certainly produce spiritual fruit in your life too!)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
So what conditions and ingredients are essential to becoming a spiritually fruitful person? Just like in farming, let’s be like Jesus and keep things simple. He spoke of four key things to becoming a spiritually fruitful person.
- You Need Good Seed: Read The Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13. Jesus explains that the seed is the word of God that scatters on different types of soil. To produce spiritual fruit in your own life, you need to begin with the seed of God’s word, which Peter tells us is “living, enduring and imperishable” seed.
- Consider the Soil Condition of Your Heart: In the parable of the Sower, Jesus speaks of four types of soil: Hard, Rocky, Weedy, and Good. If my heart is hard and not soft toward God, then I can’t expect to see any spiritual fruit in my life. If my heart is shallow, trivial and petty, then that living seed of God’s word is never going to have any depth to take root. If my heart and life is filled with the weedy distractions from “the worries of the life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for other ‘things’”, then where is there room for God? But if I allow that living and active word of God–that tiny, yet powerful seed–to fall on the good soil of my heart that has been made new by Christ’s work in my life, then I can expect to see a crop of 100, 60 or 30-fold of spiritual fruit in my life.
- Water Daily: I love what Paul writes about the fruit of the Spirit “Against such things there is no law.” When love, joy, peace and all the fruit of the Spirit are living and growing in our lives, we walk in the true freedom we were made for. We don’t live by a long list of rules and laws. We live by freedom in Christ. This happens only one day at a time, which is why we need to water our souls daily with the spiritual practices (call it gardening) that cultivate this rich spiritual fruit in our lives. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to water your heart, mind and spirit. Water daily…
- Growth Happens in the Light: Unless your life-long aspiration is to become a mushroom (neither a plant nor animal, but a fungus!), becoming spiritual fruitful happens by living and walking in the light of God. Every single plant God created sustains itself by energy from the sun. With water and the right soil conditions, sunlight causes fruit trees to grow, blossom and thrive. The result is fruit and as I’ve experienced at the grove this week, tons of fruit.Though storms, heartache, challenges and pressure threaten to destroy the spiritual fruit we are asking God to cultivate in our lives, as we follow Jesus, we have the promise of His light to guide us every day of our lives. Yes, even our darkest days.
We cultivate and work our groves of family, marriage, work relationships, neighbors and friends 365 days a year, but ultimately, it is the work of the Holy Spirit who produces spiritual fruit in our lives. Becoming a spiritually fruitful person begins with choosing to cooperate with the Creator who knows exactly how to cultivate the fruit you want most evident in your life. Imagine what our lives would look like if we produced bin after bin of spiritual fruit? A 100, 60 or thirty-fold?
That’s a lot of guacamole!
Questions: What “fruit of the Spirit” would you like to see most evident in your life? What spiritual practices (gardening) help you best to cultivate spiritual fruit in your life?