Think fruit

John 12:20-36
We obsess over goals. It’s part of ingrained market mindset.

Without goals, we’re not sure we can be productive. To be sure, in its place, ambition can be a helpful driver. It’s good to know where we want to go while we figure out where we’re going.

But Christ never offers goal-oriented teaching. Productivity was not his mission. His desire was that we bear fruit. What does that mean? Think of fruit as the combined qualities and actions of our lives. As we seek devotion to Christ, our fruit reflects our experience with God. Or it does not, and that’s the problem.

Why don’t we preoccupy ourselves with bearing fruit instead of setting goals?

It’s what the Lord expects of us.

Pondering the fruit of our lives also helps us witness Spirit’s transformation. John the Baptist understood this. His call was to “bear fruit worthy of repentance” (Luke 3:8). The apostle Paul specifies what the fruit of the Spirit is in Galatians 5. He also offers a deep list of qualities of a Christian who understands God’s grace in Romans 12. Read those passages and you’ll see how much work Spirit needs to do within us.

I hope you’ll also recognize it isn’t merely work on you. The community of Christ, the church, must bear fruit as well. Loving your enemies, for example, isn’t only a personal act. A group of people can live out or ignore such a calling the same way an individual can.

That leads us to consider another kind of fruit of our lives. We see it in how Jesus once answered a request.

Many people shouted “Hosanna!” as Jesus rode into Jerusalem. They were pilgrims who traveled to worship. Faithful Jewish people of God were there to honor the Lord. There were other nationalities there, too. John tells us that “some Greeks” wanted to see Jesus. As it turns out, we never hear if the Greeks got to see Jesus.

Instead, the Lord interpreted their request as fruit of his ministry. It was a sign his time had come “to be glorified” (John 12:23).

It’s somewhat easy to evaluate, for example, if you’re more patient than you used to be. Likewise, you can tell if you’re less angry or more kind. That’s fruit of the Spirit. But it can be more difficult to interpret how the fruit of your life impacts others around you. That’s what Jesus did. He took the request of the Greeks as an indication of how God was using him.

That’s a tricky judgment for us to make.

Does it mean we look for certain behaviors or actions from other people? If we do, do we risk missing how God might actually be working? Who decides what to expect from other people?

It may be difficult to interpret the fruit of our ministry, but it is necessary.

Thankfully, when it comes to the fruit of our lives, Spirit is in control. Both the inner work and the outer consequences are God’s movement. Still, maybe we should make it a goal to bear more fruit.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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