“He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season” (Psalm 1:3).
The Bible makes it plain that fruit is the test of the Christian life (Matthew 7:16-20; John 15:8). What is fruitfulness in the spiritual sense? We are to go about doing good, as our Master did, but bearing fruit involves more than Christian activity. True fruitfulness is the natural result when the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) become evident in the Christian’s life.
What is the purpose of fruit? It is not merely for ornament or decoration. The fruit of trees is for the feeding of hunger, and it is likewise not enough to bear spiritual fruit merely for the beautifying of our own life. The commandments to love God and love our neighbor are linked together (Matthew 22:36-40). He who loves God will love his neighbor also. Hence we must bear fruit which will be a blessing to others. It is one of the best proofs of our spiritual life that others are helped, cheered, strengthened, or comforted by the things in us.
Our Scripture says we should be like a tree that brings forth fruit in season. Different kinds of fruits ripen at different times of the year. Young Christians should not be expected to be just like older Christians. We must not look for the ripeness of mature life from those who possess the inexperience of youth. In the natural world, there are weeks and weeks in which the fruit hangs upon the tree, and though it has every appearance of lusciousness, it is still hard and sour. But, at the time of ripening, all is changed, and the fruit is mellow and sweet! So it is in life. Many excellent people, with much promise of fruit, do not bring their fruit to perfection until the late autumn of life. Paul was an old man when he wrote that he had learned in whosoever state he was, therein to be content (Philippians 4:11).
Some fruits do not ripen until the frosts come. Just so, some Christian lives do not yield their richest and best character until the frosts of sorrow have fallen upon them. Many Christians go on through joyous days, amid prosperity, pure in motive, earnest in activity—yet not bringing forth the best fruits. But when trouble comes—adversity, sorrow, loss—the fruit is ripened.
If we would bear fruit, there is a condition we must observe—we must abide in Christ. The roots of our life must go down deep into His life—as the roots of the tree search for water. We must live so that the blessings of God’s love shall reach us—through our faith and through the word and Spirit of God. The fruitful tree—and the fruitful Christian—must be planted by the streams of water.
—J. R. Miller, condensed