No one expects an apple tree to produce an orange, but everyone expects an apple tree to produce an apple. A tree is known for the fruit it produces. Apple trees produce apples. Orange trees produce oranges. We don’t need a deep and challenging lesson in horticulture to get our heads around this truth. What we intuitively understand is that the apple tree has everything underneath its exterior bark to produce apples. We understand that what is in the tree manifests itself in the fruit that it produces.
The same is true for humans. For those of us who have been saved by the grace of God, we should produce good, God-honoring fruit. Why? Because at salvation, we were given the Holy Spirit of God to dwell inside of us. Since the Holy Spirit of God is inside us, it only makes sense that we would produce the fruit of the Spirit. Do you know what fruit the Spirit produces? The Bible tells us directly to take the guesswork out of it. According to the scripture, the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23). So the question for us is simple: is this fruit being produced through my life?
It is important to note that we are still living in a broken world and will not be able to succeed at producing this fruit every moment of every day. There will be times when we slip into the flesh and fail. I’m not talking about those isolated failures. I am asking you to be honest with yourself by taking a look at your life and determining if any of this fruit is truly being produced.
When Jesus cursed the fig tree for not producing fruit, he did so because it had the appearance of being fruit-bearing, but it wasn’t bearing any fruit. I guess you could say it was all leaves with no fruit. Although the tree wasn’t in season for bearing mature fruit, the fact that it had leaves on it tells us that there should have been what was called taksh, which is Arabic for immature, edible figs. Lush foliage signals that taksh are present. As a result, Jesus rightly expects fruit when he combs through the leaves. I think the message Jesus is trying to send us is that it is entirely possible to have the right look without the ability to bear fruit.
If the fruit of the Spirit is not present in your life, you probably need to ask yourself some questions: Am I truly saved? Do I have the Holy Spirit living and working inside of me?
It is entirely possible that you have been “churched” but never saved. You may know how to look the part at church while not truly knowing Jesus. If that is the case and you sense the Spirit of God drawing you to a place of repentance right now, let me encourage you to confess to God that you recognize your need to be forgiven. Agree with God that Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection made it possible for you to be forgiven. Accept the gift of new life that God wants to offer you through Jesus.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 6:23
If you received the gift of forgiveness and new life, I sure hope you will let me know by sending me a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know you have been saved, but you aren’t producing fruit, you may need to ask: What sin have I allowed into my heart and mind that has stunted my ability to produce spiritual fruit?
Once you realize what physical things have taken priority in your life over the spiritual things, you should ask God to remove those things or help you prioritize them differently in your life.
When it is all said and done, we are known by the fruit we produce. An apple tree can’t morph into an orange tree unless God, in his sovereignty, changes the tree from the inside out. I don’t know of any times when God has done that, but I know hundreds of stories where God turned lost people into found people, spiritually dead people into spiritually alive people, and people who produced the fruit of the flesh into people who produce the fruit of the Spirit. Don’t let it be said that you are “all leaves and no fruit.”