There is a great raspberry farm near our house. It is a local favorite for picking. Finding and picking fresh fruit has a reward of its own. It's fun, it's immediate, and you can pick as much as you care to pay for. But once the fruit has been gathered in, and the hard work of the farmer is done, then the hard work of the reaper begins. What do you do with the fruit once it is picked? Fruit has a shelf life. It begins the moment the fruit is plucked from the vine. The quality of both taste and freshness is directly related to how long ago it was picked. The longer you wait to preserve the fruit, the less it pays to have gone picking at all. In order to keep the fruit from rotting, you have to--to use an old term--put up, or preserve, the harvest. It takes work, and timeliness is critical.
When Christ is our life source, we find ourselves doing just what scripture says we will be doing...growing! We begin to bear spiritual fruit. Some fruits come on quickly and abundantly while others are formed at a painstakingly slow pace. Over time though, if we remain steadfast in the Vine and cultivate the soil of the heart with his word, fruit does come. We can count on it. It is the principle of sowing and reaping: we will reap what we sow.
First, the Fruit of the Spirit will become evident in the life of the believer. These qualities begin to flavor all areas of the Christian's life. This does not happen all at once or even without setbacks, but with persistent gains and growth, we begin to see the evidence of a transformed heart and life.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
But even aside from the Fruit of the Spirit in us, there is a spiritual fruit that comes from trusting God for what he says is true. When we follow his word in faith, there will be fruit; yet what do we do with the abundance of his increase? How do we preserve it rather than let it rot on the vine? How do we manage the hard work and timely demands of the harvest so that all of that growth was not in vain?
How does this practically apply?
Maybe you have applied God's word to your job or as a student, and he has given you added responsibility and increase. With that you now feel a new sense of pressure and duty. How do you manage the change and continue to grow with the demands? How do you continue to trust him to supply all you need as responsibilities and demands grow?
Or maybe you are a young wife who is seeking to follow God's word in her marriage. You are seen as old-fashioned by others because you seek to honor and respect your husband. You may feel isolated for building your marriage on the principles of scripture. How do you continue to build on that foundation in the midst of opposition from many voices around you? Or how do you continue to trust when submission gets hard?
Perhaps you acutely feel the weight and dangers of raising children in this generation and just in general. God has blessed you with these gifts of fruitfulness, but you can't envision how on earth you will raise them all faithfully to adulthood. How do you keep up the work of parenting over the long haul?
There are countless scenarios this idea could apply to: areas where you feel you might be put to shame. What if the whole crop goes to seed? What if it rots before I can preserve it all? What...if...it...fails?
It all sounds a little fearful doesn't it? What if? Can you tell I have been wrestling through some of this myself? I have. It is easy to imagine all of the ways the crop can fail and there are real dangers which can cause that. But what good is it to dwell on that? I am thankful for this post a friend shared recently, There is no grace for your imaginings. But there is grace sufficient for today...and it arrives today! And there will be grace sufficient for tomorrow...and it will arrive tomorrow! That is not to say we don't plan for tomorrow, but rather not to worry about tomorrow.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34
We trust God with the harvest just as we trusted him for the fruit. But as the old Sunday school song goes, we are to trust and then also obey. We can work with what God has given us to do. Proverbs 31 reminds us to set about our work vigorously, with strong arms (v.17) and eager hands (v.13), doing TODAY what is before us. There is work involved in preserving a harvest, but the steps are laid out and reliable. It is not to say that there will never be waste or rot. We live in a fallen world and we will not preserve perfectly. But even in this, God is working all things for the good of those who love him. We must continue to trust him in both our losses and our gains. Whatever yield comes, it will be because he has established the work of our hands. As we go about our work and stave off the blight of worry and fear, we can pray:
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90:17
Amen. In Christ's love, Erika
Here is a quick recap if you wish to read any of the previous posts in this series: