“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom,” says a verse in Proverbs (4:7, KJV). In an effort to do that, we’ve been studying how James defines Godly wisdom in his letter to the New Testament church.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceful, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:17-18, WEB)
Today’s post is about the sixth characteristic on this list — wisdom is full of good fruits. Fruit is an often used metaphor in the Bible. It typically refers to what is produced in/by a person’s life. Certain fruits are associated with a life guided by God’s spirit and others indicate a life lived apart from God.
How to Fruit
There are certain actions and things that are not fruitful. As followers of Christ, we are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather even reprove them” (Eph. 5:11, WEB). A life lived in spiritual darkness cannot lead to the production of good fruit. And if we’re not producing good fruit, then we’re in trouble.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the farmer. Every branch in me that doesn’t bear fruit, he takes away. Every branch that bears fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. … He who remains in me and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man doesn’t remain in me, he is thrown out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:1-2, 5-6, WEB)
On the one hand, these words of Jesus are frightening. It reads like a threat — be fruitful or die! But on the other hand, it provides a comfortingly simple guide for life. All we have to do in order to be fruitful is to abide in Jesus. He chose us to “go and bear fruit” by which His “Father is glorified” (John 15:8, 16). And the only thing we need to do in order to be fruitful is stay close to Him.
The Right Kind of Fruit
Once, before we knew God, our “sinful passions” worked in us “to bring out fruit to death.” Now, however, we are joined “to him who was raised from the dead, that we might produce fruit to God” (Rom. 7:4-5, see also Rom. 6:21-23). So the next question is, what kind of fruit do wise people produce?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal. 5:22-23, WEB)
These are all good fruits. Some were already mentioned by James as characteristics of the wisdom from above. When we’re walking in God’s ways, guided by His holy spirit, our lives will be full of these fruits. And as we grow in wisdom, we’re going to model ourselves more and more after God’s character traits. This results in us bringing forth the same fruits in our lives that we see in the life of Jesus Christ, and those fruits are summarized by this list in Galatians.
To Not be Unfruitful
One of our goals as Christians is to not be “unfruitful.” Part of this quest involves doing good works — “Let our people also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they may not be unfruitful” (Tit. 3:14, WEB). We’re not saved by anything we do, but the gift of salvation prompts a certain response. Walking “worthily of the Lord, to please him in all respects” includes “bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10, WEB). And, of course, such works must be motivated by an inward change.
Yes, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence; and in moral excellence, knowledge; and in knowledge, self-control; and in self-control perseverance; and in perseverance godliness; and in godliness brotherly affection; and in brotherly affection, love. For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to not be idle or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8, WEB)
As we continue to grow into being wise, God-like Christians we’ll become increasingly “filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:11, WEB). Being fruitful is a life-long process prompted by God’s work in us motivating us to wisely produce godly character, actions, etc. in our lives.
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