Thursday, June 30, 2011

Are You a Fruity Christian?

For me, nothing beats a ‘mater sammich in the summer time. In my book, the perfect recipe for this dog-day delight includes a big, juicy home grown tomato, Hellman’s Mayo, a slice of American Cheese and a couple of pieces of Wonder Bread. The tomato must be home grown. The best ones are still warm from the summer sun.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever successfully grow any tomatoes at my own home. Alton and I have tried year after year with no success. This year, I even let him put the scruffy looking plants in our front yard, the only location that gets the kind of full sun that tomatoes require. We’ve been so faithful about watering and feeding the plants. I was excited when I saw lots of buds and then little green tomatoes starting to develop, thinking our dedication was finally paying off. However, it appears that some kind of critter, maybe a bunny or a chipmunk, is getting to the nearly-ripened ones before we can. It’s so frustrating!

I can kind of understand how Jesus must have felt in Matthew when he was hungry and was hoping to snag a snack off a fig tree, only to find the tree bore no fruit. I’m guessing Jesus was more that a tad irritated when he said to the tree, “May you never bear fruit again!" causing the tree to immediately wither.

I think there’s a lot more meaning to this story than a hungry Jesus and a barren fruit tree. As Christians, we are meant to bear fruit. While bearing fruit is not a requirement for our salvation, it is an outward sign of the Holy Spirit that now dwells within us. In Matthew 7, when Jesus is teaching the disciples how to identify real from false prophets, he said, “By their fruit you will recognize them.”

Jesus hungers for fruit in our lives. He longs to see us allow the Holy Spirit to take over our hearts and minds enabling us to do great things for the glory of God. Ask yourself this question, if you were a fig tree like the one mentioned in the Gospels, would Jesus easily find fruit among your leaves? If you’re a little embarrassed by your bare branches, ask God for help. Ask Him to help you weed out the things that might be stunting your growth and to direct you down paths that lead to fruitfulness.

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