What Is the Fruit of My Life?
As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit . . . Matthew 13:23
It’s not uncommon to hear a newly recovered addict in treatment or jail proclaim that he wants to become a pastor. He’s found faith and, in his excitement, he dreams of leading others to it. To everyone else, this seems like a grandiose delusion. So far, his life has been known for addiction, crime, and destruction. Others are going to need to see some significant success and sobriety time before they believe he’s changed. Friends and family are glad he’s found faith, but they want to see the fruit of that faith. So far, his past performance predicts that he’s just going to relapse again.
I remember being in that place and I remember the crisis of faith it caused me. Who was I? What was the sum of my life? I claimed to be a Christian, but at the time of my disaster, all I could see was my addiction. I knew Christians weren’t perfect, but it seemed that the fruit of my life was inconsistent with what I claimed to be. I could call myself an apple tree. I could even believe I was an apple tree. But if I looked like a cactus and produced only spines, I had a problem.
In today’s passage, Jesus concludes the parable of the sower, explaining the expected Christian life. He sows a seed which grows in us, producing predictable results. As we grow in faith, we abandon our destructive ways, love our neighbors, do good works, and tell others what he’s done for us. As Christians, we’re meant to produce fruit. We’re not saved by what we do – we’re saved only by faith – but if that faith is real, it will lead to dramatic change in our behavior.
Many of us though, are stuck in that place where we have little fruit to offer as evidence of our faith. We claim to be apple trees but produce only cactus spines. Again, Christians aren’t perfect, but if the sum of our lives adds up to no fruit for God, can we really claim to be Christians? Or, are we like the addict with grandiose delusions? If we truly believe in Christ, then daily, we must abandon our way, following his, producing the predictable fruit of that belief.