“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise”. –Proverbs 11:30
Pastor Ron has been preaching through the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5 over the past several months. This theme is such a precise means self-evaluation. Is my life indicative of these fruit that are produced by the Spirit of God? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; these are the characteristics, the fruit of one who has been born again by the Spirit and lives his/her life in Christ.
Sandra McCracken is a Christian singer/songwriter who has collaborated with some other folks to form a group called Rain for Roots. If you have kids you should look them up. This is fun children’s music with solid theology in music that is stylistically right up my alley. One of their songs “Apples Don’t Grow on Pear Trees” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xaq58l4GmI) picks up on this theme of fruit. The chorus says this, “your heart is where the words of your mouth grow, your mouth is where the thoughts of your heart go, Jesus change our hearts to bear, to bear good fruit”. Proverbs says that this fruit is a tree of life. In the Bible the tree of life is introduced in the Garden of Eden as that which will impart eternal life. God tells Adam and Eve that there are two trees in the Garden, the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The pair decides, against God’s dire warning, to simply taste the fruit that they’re told will make them “like” God. We can still taste the bitterness of that fruit, and we can see it as we look around at the fallen world. They were deceived in their thinking and the fruit they produced was death and despair.
Thankfully the story didn’t end there. In Christ, and by faith in His work on the cross we are given a righteousness that is foreign to our natural state. We are forgiven for the sins that we have committed, and we are transformed in our very nature from one that is naturally given over to rejection of God, to one that hungers and thirsts for that tree of life. In believing in Christ we are born again by the Spirit and given a new nature. The old has passed away and all things have become new. As we begin to walk out this new life we begin to bear fruit that is in keeping with our new nature; that is in keeping with the other tree.
There are only two trees. Naturally we feast on the one because it feeds our egos, our desire for self-preservation, our own sense of moral and ethical superiority. When we get a taste of the other, we realize we’ve been eating junk food all our life. The Tree of Life is Jesus himself. He is satisfying. His fruit is flavorful and filling, and once you’ve tasted, there’s only one thing you want to do. Tell someone! “Hey, I’ve found fruit that gives life! I’ve found fruit that forgives and sets free. I’ve found fruit that transforms my deep affections and I’m filled with a love that I’ve never known.” This is why the Proverb says that one who wins souls is wise. Taste and see that the Lord is good.