Fruit of the Righteous

Autumn is arguably my favorite season of the year. As the air begins to chill and the trees begin to fill out with a rainbow of colors, a crisp aroma fills the air. The sun sits a little lower in the sky, and the days begin to shorten. I love this time of year! Everywhere I turn, I am blessed to witness the glory and majesty of God’s Creation with all of my senses.

Of all the blessing that come with the end of summer, perhaps my favorite is the ripening apples. Sweet and soft, tart and crisp, or anywhere in between; I love apples: whole apples, fresh apple cider, pies, cobblers, dumplings, and more. Apples are, perhaps, my favorite fruit.

In Pennsylvania, we had three apple trees in our back yard. Our first year in the home, the nearest apple tree produced a sizable crop of apples. For each year following, this particular tree produced fewer and fewer apples. Two autumns ago, it produced very few apples. That winter, during a snow storm, the entire tree was uprooted and fell. It was dead. The fruit it produced was an indication of the health of the tree.

Psalm 1:3 tells us that the righteous are like “a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season.” (ESV) Jesus tells us that He is the living water. In John 7:37-38, Jesus says “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me,… Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (ESV)

Jesus is the source of living water. When we abide in Him, we are like trees planted by streams of water. In another analogy, Jesus compares Himself to a vine and tells us “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit.” (John 15:5, ESV)

But what fruit should the righteous life produce? In the vine and branches analogy, Jesus follows His words “go and bear fruit” with the words “love one another.” In one sense, the visible fruit of a righteous life is love for one another. Another measure of the fruit produced by the righteous life is given to us by the apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians.

In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul writes “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Note that when Jesus talks about the living water in John 7:37-38, John goes on to explain that the Holy Spirit is the living water. As such, the righteous in Christ are filled with the Holy Spirit. Like trees planted near a stream, they bear much fruit: love, joy, peace, patience…

This autumn, as we enjoy the bountiful harvest of apples and other fruits, please take some time to prayerfully ask, “Am I bearing much fruit?” If not, please repent, turn to Jesus, and abide in Him. He is waiting and ready for you to abide in Him, and He in you. He loves you, as do I.

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