“In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” (Isaiah 61:3 NLT)
Have you ever read a Bible verse and felt you could never live up to it? The Bible uses many symbols and metaphors to explain spiritual truths. On several occasions God refers to His people as trees. Oaks of righteousness, “trees planted along the riverbank bearing fruit each season” (Psalm 1:3 NLT).
In Ezekiel 47:12, the Bible paints an even more striking visual. “Fruit trees of all kinds will grow along both sides of the river. The leaves of these trees will never turn brown and fall, and there will always be fruit on their branches.”
It’s an attractive picture of what we’re called to as Christ-followers. Beautiful trees, always bearing fruit, never browning, never dropping leaves… bringing sweetness and goodness wherever we go.
It sounds like a tall order.
It sounds like a challenge in our over-stressed, over-scheduled lives. How can I be fruitful all the time? How can I be kind and loving when my spouse is grumpy or my boss mean and snarky or the cashier at the grocery store has an attitude? How can I bear fruit when life seems to be falling in pieces around me?
Perhaps it’s not so much a challenge as a promise.
God created many fruit-bearing trees. Apples, peaches, pears…every season without fail they produce their sweetness for us to enjoy. It’s what they were created to do – every year producing a bountiful harvest that yields pies and cobblers and sweet, sweet juice.
And yet, you never see a peach tree striving to produce, squinting up its bark to squeeze out a peach. A pear tree doesn’t get all worked up over whether it will bear fruit this year and the gardener doesn’t get anxious wondering if he’ll have apples to take to market.
We don’t produce fruit by our own striving or effort.
What is the secret to bearing fruit? Spiritually, we can find it in the next verse in Ezekiel: “There will be a new crop every month, for they are watered by the river flowing from the Temple” (Ezekiel 47:12). (Emphasis mine.) We produce fruit by connecting our lives to the Source, by stretching our roots down deep into the soil of God’s word to soak up life, sustenance and nourishment.
Then the miracle begins – first a bud, then a blossom, then full-blown fruit. Out of your life will spring abundant fruit: a kind word that lifts a weary co-worker, a gentle answer that calms a raging boss, a loving look that inspires your child who is trying to do his best.
No striving required. No anxious worry or doubt, but more a simple belief in God’s purpose for your life. Be a tree. Bear fruit. It’s what you were created to do.
Love, joy, peace… fruit will naturally flow from your life to those around you when you are connected to the Source. Stretch your life into the fullness of God and the fruit will come.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…” Galatians 5:22-23