Sweat beaded down my forehead as I stood in the summer heat. Tomatoes peeked out from my garden, basking in the full sunlight. The small garden was flourishing with greenery; however, weeds covered much of the ground. Today was the day though. It was in desperate need of care. Kneeling beside it, I aggressively began uprooting the vast array of weeds. My bucket was filled to the top. Nutrient-rich dirt covered my hands. It was a gratifying task. My vegetable plants would survive after all. Not only survive, but they would continue to bear fruit—rewards of a healthy summer garden.
Working steadily, I went from row to row. Then, I discovered a struggling plant beneath the weeds. It was one of my tomato plants, which was planted in early spring. Unlike the others, there was no fruit on it. It appeared as if it was merely surviving. The weeds were covering it with a heavy layer, making it near impossible to obtain needed sunlight.
“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit . . .Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
Matthew 7:18 & 20, NIV
Christians are expected to bear good fruit. Sadly, many people who claim they are Christians are like my fruitless tomato plant. Instead of basking in the sunlight, they are living in darkness, slowly and surely being choked by the world. There is no fruit in their lives. With their mouths, they say they are Christians, but their lives speak a different message. They have their own agendas, and glorifying God is not one of them.
“This is what the Lord says: 'Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.'”
Jeremiah 17:5-8, NIV
So, tell me, which one are you? Are you flourishing like my healthy vegetable plants or are you like my fruitless tomato plant? If you feel as if you are living in darkness, merely surviving this world, I am praying for your salvation today. Please visit this page to learn how you can become a Christian.
For the rest of you, let's continue to pursue growth in our relationship with God as we seek to understand more of his Word. This week we will continue our study of 1 John, where we will learn more about the good fruit in a Christian life. Please consider joining in the study even if you have opted out of the study in previous weeks. To download the reading guide, click here. Let's begin by taking a closer look at Monday's passage.
“Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love, remains in death.” 1 John 3:13-14, NIV
As you read these verses, consider the following questions:
What kind of love does God call us to?
How is the love we show as Christians different from the way the world loves?
Who is God calling you to love unconditionally today?
Photo: Chad Stembridge