More than a few issues

A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. (Matthew 7:17-20)

We all have a purpose in life. According to scripture, our lives are supposed to bear fruit - something is to be "reproduced" from each of our lives. From the moment God told Adam and Eve to be "fruitful and multiply" mankind has been focused on "bearing fruit" - more than just physical offspring, but fruit of all kinds. With the labor of his hands, mankind brought forth crops and harvests beyond measure. With the investment of his time and talent, mankind ensured the mentoring of the next generation. Mankind is continually bearing fruit of one kind or another. It probably goes without saying some fruit is not exactly good fruit. I live in Arizona, so I am used to seeing these "ornamental orange trees" all over the place. People plant them because they grow well here, produce healthy green leaves and eventually produce the beautiful oranges. The only problem - their fruit is worthless! It is so tart you cannot eat it! It is for looks and not for intake. It looks similar to real oranges but lacks the quality!

In order to be able to evaluate the type of fruit we are producing we must be able to see the good and bad of "self". The "good" and "bad" of self is really not something we "judge" very well on our own. We need the clarity of the scripture and the conviction of the Holy Spirit to actually understand our "self". At times, we are bearing good fruit. When we are not bearing such 'good fruit', we need the help of others to actually see what it is we are struggling with. When I am learning something new it is good to have someone watch me for a couple of times. When they see me do something the wrong way, I want them to be quick to point it out. I do this because I want to be producing my best work. We need others who will help us see our "blind spots", don't we? If we don't have those faithful friends, now is the time to find them! One thing I have observed about myself is this tendency to not even try something if I feel I won't be good at it. Sometimes it is my pride which holds me back, at others it is my fear. I just don't like to fail. Nothing ventured is nothing gained, right? If I want to see fruit in my life, I have to take the first step toward whatever will produce the fruit. The individual failures in our lives will be there - you know, those tiny compromises we make along the way. At first, you don't see the real issue. You will look back at some point and you don't want to see a whole lot of "issues" which really could have easily been taken care of earlier.

In life, we have lots of times when we lose interest - lose focus - or just plain lose our way. God's hope is that we will learn from our losses! Here is something I have figured out - so if it speaks to you - learn from my missed opportunities: WE always play some part in each loss! We might want to point the finger at someone else, but truth be told, we play some part (big or small) in each loss! We will continue to repeat our losses unless we examine them, find their causes, understand our part in them, and then do things differently the next time. Fruitful people are concerned with the fruit produced. They are directed toward something more than "ornamental" fruit - they want fruit which provides deep satisfaction. The way to the production of this type of fruit is riddled with all kinds of failure - but it is what we do with the failure that matters. We have limited fruit-bearing capacity outside of the grace of God in our lives. It is the tender graces of God in our lives that redirect our attention, help us to hold onto the things which produce the loveliest of fruit in our lives, and learn the lessons from those "difficult issues" along the way. Just sayin!

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