Fruitful Focus

Just look at all of those beautiful red berries! What a lovely bush . . . from far away.

Barberry

I’ve written before about the barberry bush (Barbs or Blossoms? and Planned). It really isn’t one of my favorites, with its long, sharp thorns lining each branch. Sure, it’s got cute little flowers in the spring and lovely shades of red in the fall, but getting close to it can be a bit painful.

Although it’s not really near and dear to my heart, this shrub makes an excellent example of being fruitful! Let me show you what I mean.

Someone needs to do a fall cleanup around here . . .

Pictured above is the area just in front of the barberry bushes from the first picture. Let’s zoom in just a little bit more.

It’s a jungle out there!

They aren’t all the same color, but there are at least five new barberry plants in this photo that have popped up where they shouldn’t be! Those cute little berries have done their job.

I may not like the plant itself, but I’ve recently learned that the berries themselves may actually have some health benefits (as opposed to the burning bush that I like, which has poisonous berries)! Maybe I’ll be brave enough to cook some barberries from the bush behind my house into our rice tonight. I’ll let you know tomorrow if we survive!!

Left: Poisonous Burning Bush berries; Right: Edible Barberries

Fruitful Lives

Christ followers are called to be fruit bearers. Following is just a short collection of verses from Scripture, beginning with words straight from Jesus:

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing . . .When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

John 15:5 & 8

Paul wrote a few times about fruit, as well.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Galatians 5:22-23

May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

Philippians 1:11

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

Colossians 1:9-10

Did you notice in these verses that fruit is a byproduct of something else?

  1. It is a result of abiding in and remaining attached to the vine (Jesus Christ), drawing strength and life from Him.
  2. It comes as we submit to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives.
  3. It is produced in our lives by Jesus Christ, in the form of righteous character (see #2).
  4. It is a natural effect of increased knowledge of God’s will, tied together with spiritual wisdom and understanding.

The barberry bush isn’t out back all year thinking, “Oh, I hope I make some berries this fall! I wonder how I can make more berries. Will my berries be any good?” It just grows. Its roots grow down into the soil, its leaves make energy, and its branches grow ever higher toward the sun. And voila! Berries appear!

Our focus should be first and foremost on our relationship with our Heavenly Father, who gave us the gift of salvation. He adopted us as his own children, has promised to never leave us, and has an inheritance waiting for us when we leave this life. He is always good, He is always loving, and He is always faithful.

The deeper our relationship grows with God, the more we will start to look like Jesus. He will begin to work in us and through us, causing our lives to bear fruit and bring him glory.

And what is the natural outcome of bearing fruit? Fruit contains seeds of new life! The fruit we bear can lead to others coming to know Jesus. The fruit is not our focus, but it is a natural result of a life lived close to God.

What is one thing you can do today to invest in your relationship with your Heavenly Father?

*I know you’re wondering, and it’s kept you awake at night…we all survived dinner!

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