A little boy went over to a pastor's house, where the pastor was doing some carpentry in his garage. The boy simply stood there and watched him for quite a long time. The preacher wondered why this boy was watching him and was finally so curious that he stopped and said, "Son, are you trying to pick up some pointers on how to build something?"
The little boy replied, "No. I am just waiting to hear what a preacher says when he hits his thumb with a hammer."
Often, we will find out what we are made of by what comes out of our mouths in both good and bad circumstances. When we have a change in conduct and character in our lives, it is a type of spiritual fruit. Galatians 5:22 says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . . " (NKJV). A Christian's life should be characterized by these things. Are you producing fruit? Or is the opposite true? Instead of love, is there hatred, bitterness, or even prejudice in your life? Instead of joy, is there constant gloom? Instead of peace, is there turmoil? Instead of gentleness, is there a short temper? Instead of faith, is there endless worry? Instead of meekness, is there pride and arrogance? Instead of self-control, are you a victim of your own passions? If so, then either you don't know God at all or a recommitment to Christ would be in order.
If you are a Christian, then people should be able to look for—and find—fruit in your life. Why? Because a disciple of Jesus Christ will produce spiritual fruit. Jesus said, " 'My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father'" (John 15:8 NLT). Jesus also said, "'By their fruits you will know them'" (Matthew 7:20 NKJV).
The metaphor of bearing fruit is used quite often in the Bible. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus spoke of seed that falls on different types of ground, representing different reactions to the truth of the gospel message. The final category He mentioned in Mark 4:20 was good ground: "But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred" (NKJV). In other words, those who have spiritual longevity are those who embrace this truth and produce fruit. The Bible tells us that we should bear fruit worthy of repentance (see Matthew 3:8).
The Bible gives us different pictures as to what "bearing fruit" means. For example, praising and thanking God is a way of bearing fruit in our lives. Hebrews 13:15 says, "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (NKJV). When you praise God, that is bearing fruit.
At one of our church services, I noticed a young woman in the front row who was in a wheelchair. Her legs were gone, and she had only one arm, which was a partial one. As we were worshipping, this young woman lifted what she had of her arm to the Lord. I thought about how this must have pleased God. She didn't have hands to lift, but what she had, she lifted to the Lord. Did she have troubles in her life? Did she have difficulty? Of course she did. But she offered a sacrifice of praise to God.
We don't praise God only when we are in the mood. Rather, we praise God because He is worthy of our praise. Our word, "worship," comes from the old English form, worthship. We praise that which is worthy. Therefore, we don't praise God because we feel like it. We praise God because He deserves our praise. When we do this, we are bearing fruit.
What we say is also a type of fruit in our lives. Jesus said, "'A good person produces good deeds from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil deeds from an evil heart. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say'" (Luke 6:45 NLT). When you are a true Christian, it will be reflected by what you say. This is bearing fruit as well.
Can others identify spiritual fruit in your life? Remember, people are watching you. They are listening to you. I hope that you are pointing them to Jesus.
Reproduced by permission from Harvest Ministries with Greg Laurie, PO Box 4000, Riverside, CA, 92514.
Greg Laurie pastors Harvest Christian Fellowship (one of America's largest churches) in Riverside, California. He has authored several books including the Gold Medallion Award winner, The Upside-Down Church, as well as Losers and Winners, Saints and Sinners and The Best Is Yet to Come. You can find his study notes in the New Believer's Bible and The Seeker's Bible.
Host of the Knowing God with Greg Laurie television program and the nationally syndicated radio program A New Beginning, Laurie is also the founder and featured speaker for Harvest Crusades—contemporary, large-scale evangelistic outreaches, which local churches organize nationally and internationally. Laurie has also appeared on CNN'sLarry King Live, ABC World News Tonight, Fox News, and MSNBC, sharing how the Bible is relevant for people today.
Whether speaking or writing, God has gifted Pastor Laurie with the ability to apply biblical principles to current events in a way that is relevant and easily understood by people of all ages, from all walks of life. The trademark of a Greg Laurie sermon, book, or broadcast is his contemporary, yet straightforward style and format. He resides in Southern California with his wife, Cathe.