We began to explore a little about "fruit-bearing" yesterday. As you may recall, we need to both recognize what seed is being planted and have the knowledge to know whether it is good or not. Today, let's go a little deeper into this idea of "fruit-bearing" - keeping in mind that fruit is "grown", not just magically "given" in our lives. We can use all kinds of excuses for any "bad fruit" we want to - truth be told, it grew there because of the seed which was planted. On occasion, we have explored the concept of "character" being formed in our lives - a process requiring a period of time with a series of adjustments this way and that until there is evidence of God's character shining through in a pretty consistent manner. I don't think you can consider "fruit-bearing" apart from this concept of character formation. In fact, as fruit is becoming evident, it is only because of the "character" of the thing it is "attached" to from which it draws its very source of life. This is why we cannot expect grapes from a thistle bush, or oranges from a grape vine. It takes the vine to produce the grape, the tree to produce the orange, and the weed to produce the thistle!
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. (Galations 5:22-23 MSG)
I think it is important to remember growth as a "participatory" process and not something which is "forced" upon us. Sometimes one prepares the soil, another sows the seed, and still another tends the seed until it has taken root. It may be another who actually reaps the harvest and thousands who enjoy the increase of that one seed. Many benefit from the actions of a few, but all participated in the process. In the same way, when a seed is sown into our lives, we either participate with the process or we don't.
If the soil of our heart is too hard, the seed may fall, but we will reject it because we would not yield to the preparation of the soil to receive it. We participate with the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Most importantly, we recognize the importance of the process - participating in it fully. This means we allow the preparation of the soil, often uncovering hidden things we might not have known were there, and breaking up fallow soil, previously pretty barren in our lives. We also embrace the seed, allowing it to take root. As it takes root, we also need to be aware of the passage of time between root and fruit. In this time, we are not "stagnant", but participating in the process of growth - taking in what will bring forth the most precious of fruit.
When we begin to "live God's way", we are beginning to participate with him in the daily transformation of our lives. Unwholesome seed and its root is exposed - what we do with it in that moment of exposure is what determines if we are truly willing to live God's way or choosing to live our own. It is pretty easy to recognize seed and root which bears good fruit - but we often resist the attempts of the Holy Spirit to expose the seed and root which will not. It isn't that we don't see the unwholesome seed, it is more that we don't want to go to the effort of seeing the field of our lives turned over enough to get rid of ALL the seed and its root.
Until we are willing to uncover ALL the unwholesome seed, there will always be some which takes root. As you may imagine, getting to the place of "cooperating with" and "participating in" this whole "fruit-inspection" process is a little harder than we thought at first blush. For most of us, we don't have the power we need to change the stuff we need to change. The reason the seed grows is because we don't know how to get rid of it, cannot see where it has taken root, and don't realize how much it has multiplied within us.
We need the Holy Spirit's power to actually expose and remove it. You may not realize the power of the Word of God. Take even a little of it into the soil of your hearts each day and see just how much it changes the "character" of the soil! The regular turning over of the soil provided by the intake of the Word is what brings exposure. Exposure leads to removal. Removal promotes readiness. Readiness results in planting of the good stuff. Good seed produces good fruit. A little intake has a huge potential! Just sayin!