November 26, 2023 | Duane Roberts
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There’s nothing quite like fresh, ripe fruit. It’s sweet and tasty, nourishing and healthy. Fruit really is nature’s candy! But before taking a bite of that juicy apple, that sweet blueberry, or that indescribable mango, have you ever stopped to think where that fruit came from and how it came to be?
Fruits grow on trees or bushes; the process starts with the planting of a seed. But the work’s not done there. The seed has to take root and grow, it needs to be nourished and nurtured, and it needs varying degrees of sun, water, and pruning depending on the type of tree it is.
Bearing fruit requires dedication and intentionality to a process. Did you know it takes 3–5 years for an apple seed to grow and bear fruit? It takes a mango seed 5–8 years, a lemon tree 6 years, 2 years for a strawberry bush, 3–4 years for a peach tree, and 3 years for a grapevine.
The Christian life is a lot like this. Galatians 5:22–23 gives us an amazing list of all the different fruits the tree of our faith produces: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Who wouldn’t want their lives to be characterized by these traits: to have love, joy, and peace; to be patient, kind, and good; to be known as a gentle and a self-controlled person? These are beautiful attributes that not only bring sweetness, nourishment, and satisfaction to our own lives, but can also be experienced and enjoyed by others. They can even be used to plant seeds in other people’s lives. But they don’t happen by accident. In order for our lives to bear these fruits and produce outward results, the gospel must take root in our hearts and grow strong in our lives. This process is called sanctification.
Sanctification is the ongoing process through which a Christian’s life is changed and becomes more like Jesus. Through sanctification, the way we think, speak, act, and view the world will gradually reflect the heart and character of God more.
But what does this growth process look like? Well, just like how a tree is grown, it takes time and intentional, habitual care. The Christian faith calls this type of care spiritual disciplines.
Spiritual disciplines are life-giving habits that enable us to know God deeply and have an intimate relationship with Him. Paul explains the idea this way in Colossians 2:6–7 (NIV): “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him.” These include studying the Bible, prayer, worship, fasting, silence and solitude, fellowship, service, giving, and evangelism! Spiritual disciplines are to our spiritual growth and health what water, sunlight, and good soil are to a mango tree producing ripe, delicious mangos!
Now, do you want to hear the best part? Philippians 2:13 tells us we’re not alone in this process as the Holy Spirit does the heavy lifting! Our part is to simply seek to know Him and enjoy Him. And as we do that, as we get to know Jesus more, as we grow to love Him and understand His character and nature, as we live and walk in relationship with Him, the Holy Spirit will change us—producing these wonderful character traits in us, making us more like Jesus—and work in us to accomplish His will and good purposes for us, in us, and through us!
As a result of the Spirit’s work, our lives will be marked by love, kindness, and integrity. We’ll find ourselves having more patience, showing deeper kindness and gentleness to others, and having greater self-control. The fruits of the Spirit make our lives sweeter and more enjoyable, but it doesn’t end there.
Because like a mango tree in a South Florida yard, when that tree starts producing fruit and falls into a neighbor’s yard, they’re able to taste and enjoy it as well! In Psalm 34:8 (NIV), we’re invited to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” How can the people around us taste and see that He is good, that He is loving, merciful, and kind, and that His grace and love can change their lives? By the fruit our lives produce!
As Christians, this means we should be the absolute best, most productive, influential, respected, conscientious, considerate, and generous members of our communities. We should be the citizens everyone looks to and strives to imitate. Why? Because God has placed us where we are to be agents of transformation in our world. Not in isolation away from the world, but in the places and spaces He has us. Not by fighting a war against culture, but by shining the light of Jesus into our culture!
So, in this season of your life, as you go into your workplace, school, gym, neighborhood, coffee shop, or grocery store, remember that God can use your life in the simplest of ways and the most basic of interactions to show the sweetness and beauty of the gospel. A kind act, a gentle word, a bit of joyful patience . . . in these moments, know that seeds are being planted that could lead to someone’s life being changed forever!
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.