In today’s gospel reading, Jesus speaks of the fruit by which we’re known:
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:43-45)
How deeply, I wonder, am I prepared to let those words search me? To be sure, I could easily celebrate the fact that my life isn’t producing an abundance of “obviously bad fruit.” I’m not prone to bitterness or anger. My heart is not generally set upon the acquisition of stuff or the exercise of power. But is the absence of bad the same as the presence of good? Am I growing (and making available to others) love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…and all the other fruit of the Spirit?
The challenge, of course, is that even when I recognize within me a need or a desire for greater fruitfulness (which I do), I cannot force that fruit to grow through my own efforts. Trees don’t undertake “fruit expansion programs,” and I don’t think that Christlikeness will bloom within me because I undertake “Three Easy Steps to a Spiritual Harvest.” Instead, as Jesus indicates, it all happens naturally. We produce what we are. And my only hope is that “Christ will be in me” the person I could never be on my own.
In the epistle lesson from today’s Daily Office, the apostle Paul writes: “When you were dead…God made you alive with Christ.” (Colossians 2:13)
Father of Life, please plant your life in me. Remake me in the image of your Son, so that more than doing good – I can be good – and can produce naturally the fruit that honors You and feeds others. Amen.