You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. -Matthew 7:16
I’ve been meditating on this concept a lot recently…. You will know them by their fruit. This is how we will know others, but it’s also how others will know us. So, I wanted to consider “a fruit”.
To consider what a fruit is for a plant, I think about many different traits. It is energy dense, often filled with lots of sugar, to be sweet to the animals consuming it. It is colorful, filled with expensive and energetically costly compounds, so to be attractive to animals and so that we may know when the fruit is ripe and ready. They smell good and attractive, such that we may know they will be palatable and nutritious. All three of these traits act on our three senses of smell, taste, and sight to create a truly attractive item.
Crucially, and obviously, fruits contain seeds. They are meant to pass on the traits of the parent to the offspring. So, this represents a tangible way for us to pass on our traits and what they will be is a choice we each make… do we produce good fruit or bad fruit?
Another crucial piece to this is dispersal… the sensory nature of the fruit that makes it attractive to an animal precisely so that the fruit doesn’t fall directly underneath the tree. It is to be dispersed to a new piece of soil, to grow in its own sunlight. If it tried to grow in the shade of the parent tree, it would wither because the light could not penetrate. Under this analogy, we are to make our messages palatable and sweet and attractive in every way possible, such that the fruit will be taken by others and dispersed. The seeds may grow away from us (and we may never know what happens with those seeds), but there will be many that will be able to build their own solid foundation.
Finally, fruit is only produced by mature plants. We cannot offer fruit until we become mature in our walk and allow time for our fruits to come to fruition. This may lead us to understand the chaos that ensues when those that are not yet spiritually mature, try to make fruit. It just won’t work. This is a tough lesson to learn. I know I have to be patient in my walk before I can start producing fruit that is palpable in every trait. I hope I have the wisdom to know when I am ready because this is ultimately what we are called to do… make good fruit and pass on the seeds, such that the cycle can start anew in others.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
So when it comes to questions of what is a fruit for us, I consider that it’s our legacy and what we hope to pass on in our very short time on this planet. And we have the choice to fill our fruits with a slew of different traits, rendering them good or bad. We must focus on the positive virtues, that we would want to see spread through us… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And, crucially, the virtues must be palatable and provide a positive sensory experience for those that come in contact with us. And just like in plants, it will cost us energy and time to build that sweetness and brightness and odoriferous quality into our fruits.
In my walk, I am realizing that I must first become a plant that can produce such virtues, by using the strength provided by following Jesus, the supreme example of such behavior. Only then, when I do produce the fruit, the seeds contain those virtues wrapped in palatability. Praying every day that I can do this in my life and asking for strength to become mature enough to do so.