The current Sunday morning message series at Ingleside is called Stories of the Kingdom. The first week we looked at a wedding story. This past week we looked at a farming story.
Several questions have come my way about the last verse of the farming story, which says: “As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty” (Matthew 13:23, ESV).
The core question has been: so what is the “fruit”? The short answer is found in this very verse. Fruit is whatever my life “yields” (ESV). Or, as other versions translate this verse, it is whatever my life “produces” (NIV84) or “brings forth” (NASB95) as a result of having heard, understood, applied, and obeyed the “word of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:19, ESV).
A look at some other passages of Scripture will confirm this understanding. For instance, earlier in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus warned his followers about “false prophets.” In that context he said: “You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:20).
In other words, you will know the true character of a prophet not merely by their words, but by the fruit of their life – the results that their life yields, brings forth, or produces.
Similarly, in Galatians 5:23, the Apostle Paul says: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (ESV). This means that when I am filled with the Spirit, led by the Spirit, and walking by the Spirit, the result will be that my life yields, brings forth, or produces love, joy, peace, etc. in increasing measure.
The Scripture also uses the language of “fruitbearing” in a slightly different way in Colossians 1:5-6. Here it says that “the word of the truth, the gospel” is “bearing fruit and growing” throughout “the whole world.” This means that as we share the gospel it yields, brings forth, or produces more believers, more followers of Jesus Christ.
Jesus gave us something of a bottom line on “fruitbearing” in John 15. After reminding us that we cannot bear fruit apart from abiding in him and his word, he said: “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8, ESV).
As we abide in Christ, walk by the Spirit, and obey the Word, I’m confident that my life and yours will bear much fruit . . . for our good and for God’s glory!