Think about the last bit of fruit you had in your mouth. Whether it was the satisfying crunch of an apple in your mouth or the soft flesh of a grape bursting between your teeth. Good. Now that I have your attention, think to yourself, “This is excess life.”
You see, whatever tree, bush or vine created that fruit did so out of excess life. In order to bear fruit, it first had to grow roots for which to draw the nutrients out of the soil. It had to drink enough water to grow its vines and build out its stems. With every leaf, it sucked in enough carbon dioxide to sustain life. Then, and only then, when the vegetation felt it was safe and thriving, full of life, it began to pour itself into the creation of its fruit. Without the leaves, stems, and roots, there would be no fruit.
Our walk in Christ is no different as he reminded us in John 15:5:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5 ESV
In order for you to bear fruit as a Christian, you have to be full of the life only obtained from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit through the work of the Father. We dig our roots into spiritual soil through a disciplined lifestyle. Often we hit the highlights such as prayer and community through weekly fellowship. But to really bear fruit, we submit ourselves to the exploration of other disciplines: meditation, fasting, holy leisure, etc.
And yet, if we approach any these out of sheer will, we will find ourselves exhausted with little to no fruit. God set it up that way. Much like a relationship. I have three kids. Three different relationships. Three different seasons in life. I find myself taking it slow & just enjoying their presence, who they are growing into as they discover & develop character. At the same time, I am constantly putting forth the effort necessary to sustain a relationship through trips to the park, dinner dates, and phone conversations. I am both actively engaged and passively enjoying the growing relationship.
So perhaps we’ve been approaching spiritual fruit the wrong way? Instead of becoming hyper-focused on the fruit we lack (i.e. I am not patient enough, I don’t have enough joy, etc.), maybe we just focus on our relationship with Christ?