The Bible is full of produce metaphors: the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5), the True Vine (John 15), the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4), etc. There are many, many more, but the main theme runs throughout: a Christian is expected to bear good fruit. No, this does not mean we grow literal fruit from our bodies. This means that fruit is a metaphor for something of particular importance in our lives.
Let’s think about the Fruit of the Spirit for minute. We’ve all heard of it…you know, Love, Joy, Peace, and so on. If you’ve gone to church more than a few times in your life, you’ve probably heard at least one sermon on the topic, if not multiple sermons on each aspect of the 9 fruits. In the next few weeks, I’d like to throw a few more thoughts your way on the Fruits of the Spirit and how each one of them contributes to true inner beauty as well as how the beauty of each fruit is reflected on the outside. For now, however, I simply want to make sure we all understand that the Fruit of the Spirit, just like all the other produce-related metaphors in the Bible, embodies a special message from God about the single most important aspect of gardening: what you get out of it. AKA, produce.
Every plant is grown for a reason, and that reason is the harvest, or produce. For flowers, that produce is the lovely blossoms that we can smell and enjoy whether they stay on the plant or are cut to be placed in beautiful bouquets. For fruit trees, that produce goes beyond the flowers to the true harvest of apples, pears, peaches, oranges, lemons, etc. Herbs are grown to produce seasonings and flavorings, small leaves or flowers that add tons of vibrant flavor to any dish. We don’t grow gardens just for the sake of having a garden. We grow them to get something out of them, even if what we get is simply lovely smelling flowers!
This leads us back to the inner gardens of our souls. It doesn’t matter how carefully you cultivate your soul if you don’t bear fruit, or allow the fruit of your life to spill out and bless others. When a plant has produced, it needs to be harvested. Flowers need to be cut off, fruit needs to be picked. If the produce is left on the plant, it gets shriveled and nasty, sometimes mushy and moldy. It ruins the beauty and limits future productivity. Roses need to have old blossoms plucked off so new one can grow. Tomato plants need to have their fruit picked so it doesn’t fall to the ground and rot causing a stinky, slimy mess. Herbs need to consistently harvested so that new sprigs can grow and so the flavor of fresh, young leaves can be continually enjoyed. The same is true of our souls. If we do not harvest our produce and share it with those around us, we will slowly get bogged down in a mess of slimy, smelly, rotten produce. No one wants a life like that, and certainly no one wants to spend time with someone who stinks of rotten fruits.
There is no surer way to spoil the hard-earned beauty of your soul than to try to keep everything to yourself. Back to the Fruit of the Spirit for a moment. If you have spent months cultivating the fruit of kindness, yet don’t share kindness with those around you, you will become legalistic. Your kindness will be to good to share with just anyone. You will start to look down on others and soon will become downright unpleasant to be around. What about peace? You can spend years learning to have inner peace, but if you hold that peace so tight inside that others can’t tell you are at peace and you don’t share your peace liberally with other people…you will become a hermit, a miser of your time and self, unwilling to expose yourself to outside influences in fear of losing your peace. I could go on, but I hope you understand the necessity of not only bearing good, lovely fruit, but continually harvesting it and sharing it with others!
The truly beautiful soul is one so transparent that the sweet fragrance of each “flower,” and the lovely taste of every “fruit,” is evident to anyone nearby. Take some time to consider what produce you are hoping to cultivate in your life and how it will be a deep, lasting blessing to every person you come in contact with!