How’s Your Harvest?

Of course we want to be productive for the kingdom, but our fruit should also be high quality.

Growth is exciting. Just ask gardeners and farmers: They tend their plants with care and watch crops closely, hoping to see them flourish at just the right time. Or consider parents: They constantly monitor the development and maturing process of their children, looking out for signs of trouble and celebrating accomplishments along the way.

 

Sometimes growth is a sure thing, such as when we invest in an interest-bearing savings account that is guaranteed by a bank; other times we simply have to hope for the best, particularly when it comes to living things. Plants, animals, and humans are designed to grow and mature in an orderly fashion, but a lot depends on the conditions around them. And sometimes those conditions are beyond our control.

For the most part, common sense tells us that we can expect to reap what we sow. If we plant strawberries, we get strawberries—not watermelons. If we plant a rose bush, we don’t expect tulips. What’s odd is how so many of us forget this basic principle when it comes to our spiritual life.

Read Galatians 6:7-9

Before opening your Bible, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what He wants you to take away from this passage. Then read the section, jotting down your first impressions: What questions do you have? Is anything confusing? Which verses speak into your present situation, and how?

Just as gardens eventually take the shape of a landscaper’s vision, our lives reflect where we invest time, energy, and resources. If we’re self-focused and bent on experiencing as much pleasure as possible, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if we’re left empty and dissatisfied—or if God’s discipline feels harsh. But if we seek opportunities daily for spiritual growth and for serving God and others, we’ll reap eternal benefits.

The Bible has much to say about the importance of maturing spiritually and often makes comparisons to agriculture and infants. (See 2 Corinthians 9:10; Eph. 4:14-15;  Heb. 5:12-14; 1 Peter 2:1-3.) It’s not enough for a seed to sprout or for a baby to be born. If they remained in their original weak and helpless state, they’d quickly die. Growth has to happen, and that means not only increasing in size but also being strengthened on the inside.

We can expect to reap what we sow, yet many of us forget this basic principle when it comes to our spiritual life.

Read 2 Peter 3:18 and Hebrews 6:1. Being born again is a wonderful miracle, but God also wants His children to grow and fulfill the special purposes to which He has called them.

Reflect

Write your thoughts in a journal.

• When a tree grows in height and girth, anchoring roots deep in the soil, it not only becomes able to withstand storms; it also benefits plants, animals, and humans by providing shade, shelter, food, and oxygen. Read Galatians 5:22-25. When you allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life, you won’t just grow. You’ll become fruitful, blessing others and bringing glory to God.

• We can also learn lessons from trees that fail to produce. Here are some of the reasons a tree might not bear fruit:

1. The tree is too young. Most fruit trees bear in their third year.

2. The tree is sickly due to excessive water (improper drainage), disease, insect damage, or poor fertility.

3. Over-fertilization, causing excessive growth in just certain areas, robs fruit of nutrients.

4. Stress, drought, too much shade, and structural damage can all take a toll.

From this list, what applications can you make with regard to spiritual development? Remember that, like a fruit tree, if you’re in the wrong environment, your spiritual growth will be stunted. That’s why Scripture encourages seeking out Christian fellowship, just as it urges avoiding unrighteous influences. According to Proverbs 13:20, John 13:35, and Hebrews 10:24-25, what are some benefits of spending time with other believers?

• If you remain a spiritual infant for too long, you won’t grow plentiful spiritual fruit. When more effort is made to advance financially, socially, or academically than spiritually, you may grow something, but it won’t be the fruit of the Spirit.

Respond

• In order to thrive, living things need light, water, food, and regular care. How does this apply to your spiritual life? Read the following verses and note what they teach about growing spiritually:

• John 8:12; 1 John 1:7
• John 4:14; Ps. 1:1-3
• Rom. 5:3-4; James 1:2-4
• Matt. 4:2-4; John 6:51; 1 Peter 2:2

If your life does not display the fruit of the Spirit, examine why. The Bible says only a good tree can bear good fruit (Matt. 7:17-18; Luke 6:43).

• Ask God to reveal progress you’ve made relative to the nine qualities of spiritual fruit (see Gal. 5:22-23). Pray for Him to shine light on an area He wants to work on with you.

Revisit

• Business experts often say that the best way to ensure success is to set measurable goals. Similarly, unless you make specific goals regarding your spiritual growth, it can be all too easy to neglect the disciplines needed to move toward maturity.

However, while you can track sales, take inventory of stock, and collect reviews from customers, assessing your spiritual growth isn’t something you can do objectively. This is  where accountability can help.

Asking someone for an honest evaluation of your progress as a maturing Christian takes a great deal of courage, but the right person can make that act of humility more than worthwhile. Pray for God to lead you to an appropriate mentor—it could be your spouse, your pastor, or a trusted friend. Ask this person to highlight one area of strength and one that needs improvement, and then pray together for God to help you. Agree on a plan to follow up on your talk.

 

Held With Flowers Near Arles, 1888 (oil on canvas), by Vincent van Gogh

Related Topics:  Growth of a Believer

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What happens to my notes

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;

14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;

15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.

14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

1 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander,

2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,

3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

1 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,

22 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.

24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.

35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

12 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."

7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."

1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.

3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;

4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;

2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,

3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.

3 And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."

4 But He answered and said, It is written, `MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'"

51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh."

2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,

17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.

18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.

43 For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit.

22 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.

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