“After all, I’m only human.”
You’ve heard that excuse, right? Wait, you’ve made that excuse? Yep, me too. Usually after I’ve royally messed something up; done something that is completely un-Christ-like. It’s my little way of letting myself off the hook. I mean, nobody’s perfect.
Guess what? That’s no excuse.
Don’t panic. I’m not going to lambast you for falling short. I’m not going to tell you that with more faith, more Bible reading, more discipline, you can figure out how to grow more Fruits of the Spirit. The truth is, you and I will only bear the Fruit of the Spirit when, just like a child ages and matures, we grow up and begin to look more and more like our Father.
Let’s take step back and think about where fruit comes from. Apple trees produce apples, orange trees produce oranges, grape vines produce grapes.
Throughout Scripture, Jesus calls himself by many titles. One is the True Vine, another is the Son of Man. We are also told in Genesis that when God created man, He made us in His image.
When Adam and Eve sinned, one of the ways we looked like our Father—sinless and pure, was lost. Later in 2 Corinthians 3, we are told that we are to become like Christ. That is God’s ultimate desire for each one of us—in essence to once again bear resemblance to, take after or look just like the God who made us. We are to take on the likeness of a son of God.
“And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.”
2 Corinthians 6:18
There’s a saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. Consider the full lifespan of an apple: eventually it splits open, spills its seeds and produces another tree—an apple tree in the likeness of its parent tree.
Jesus is the True Vine. He is also, in Hebrews 1:3 and John 1:18, the exact image—the impression of the character of God. Jesus shows us what His Father looks like. The word character in the Greek actually means “a stamp or a signet”. When you place an inked stamp onto a piece of paper, the resulting image is the exact reflection of the stamp. That is character.
Christ is the exact replication of the Father, as believers we are the branches sprouting from Christ, The Vine. And guess what—because of who we come from, The Vine, our own life-source, we bear His fruit.
A lone branch will never produce fruit, least of all fruit that looks like the parent tree. A severed branch of an apple tree will never, ever birth more apple trees. We cannot conjure up, and manifest Fruits of the Spirit, no matter how hard we try unless we are connected to The Vine. It is Christ who produces The Fruit of the Spirit through us. And then, it is in allowing Him to produce that fruit, that we take on His appearance.
Think of it: It might be hard to tell an apple tree apart from dozens of other trees except when it has apples hanging from its branches. The fruit identifies it. What comes out of our lives blossoms into an accurate reproduction of the character of our Father.
Bearing fruit is what makes us look like Christ and marks us as His own. One of the Fruits of the Spirit is love. John 13:35 says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Bearing fruit in the likeness of the Son of Man is the most natural thing we can do as children of God. The fruit that we produce is a harvest that can lead others to our source of life. “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.” 2 Corinthians 9:10
Finally, others who consume our fruit have the opportunity to come to Jesus also. Then they will one day grow up into the likeness of the very One who created them “in His image”.