Pick A Life, Any Life – The Difference Between A Fruitless & A Fruitful Life
“We have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worth of the Lord, bearing fruit in every good work.” (Col. 1:9-10)
There’s a final target Scripture provides for every believer and every church, and you would be foolish not to have some goals in mind for this one in 2020. The Lord wants you and me to grow in fruitfulness.
“Fruitfulness” is one of God’s favorite words. In fact, do you know what the first words out of God’s mouth to humans were? Genesis 1:26. “Be fruitful.”
But what does God mean? Fruit means a whole lot of things in Scripture. God’s plan for Israel was that she would one day “fill the whole world with fruit” (Isaiah 27:6). Centuries later, Jesus cursed a fruitless fig tree (Matthew 21:18-19), then told two parables afterwards which explained why he did it: Israel had become like fruitless tree. “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.” (Matthew 21:43).
The “fruit of the Spirit” refers to the growth of Christlike character within us (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus said we would know people by their fruits – referring to the moral output of their lives (Matthew 7:16-20). Jesus told his disciples, “I chose you to go and bear fruit” referring in all likelihood to souls we would win to Christ (John 15:16).
If you take all these different fruits, and put them in a juice blender, I think a good way to think of fruitfulness is this: A fruitful life is one where a person uses whatever God gives them to grow his kingdom of goodness on the earth.
God created the world perfect, but he didn’t create the world complete. From the Genesis story we see that God filled the earth with love, goodness and beauty. But he told the first humans, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). As God’s image-bearers, we were to go forth and bring into existence exponentially more love and goodness and beauty.
The Creation story hints at all sorts of ways we could do this. Through exploration, discovery, agriculture, craftsmanship, husbandry, the raising of families, the building of community, music, architecture, technology (Genesis 2:10-28; Acts 4:20-22), the glory of God would increase on the earth through us.
God could have had Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” playing in the garden like elevator music when Adam and Eve were walking around. But he didn’t. He waited till Handel wrote it.
And every time someone composes a song, or paints a picture, or teaches a student, or comforts the hurting, or makes a new discovery, or invents a new widget, or governs well, or defends the oppressed, or stands up for truth, or overcomes a temptation, or raises their children well – God’s love, goodness and beauty grows upon the earth.
A fruitful life is one where a person uses whatever God gives them to grow his kingdom of goodness on the earth.
There’s no limit on how this can happen. A fruitful life is one where a person uses whatever God gives them. It doesn’t matter how young or old you are. You can be fruitful at any age. Psalm 92:14 says that the righteous “still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap, and green.”
It doesn’t matter how healthy you are. Joni Erickson Tada was paralyzed from the neck down. So she learned to paint with her mouth. It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are. Or how wealthy you are. Increase God’s goodness on the earth any way you know how. Jesus said even a person who gives a cup of water to ease someone’s thirst will not lose his reward.
Colossians 3:23 tells us, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”
Do you want to know what we’ll be doing in eternity? We won’t be standing around in white pajamas, playing harps on memory-foam-clouds. We’ll be doing what we were supposed to be doing in the first place before we mucked it up with our sin – increasing God’s love, goodness and beauty throughout creation.
In other words, take the best aspects of this life, multiply it by a billion, or better a trillion, take out all the evil and selfishness and suffering, then you’ll start to catch a glimpse of what eternity will be like. That’s no so bad now, is it?
I love what the apostle Paul said toward the end of his life. “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 20:24).
And you, my friend, have a course, a ministry, a life laid out for you, by Jesus himself. The Bible tells us that God prepares good works in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
So what are you waiting for? I’d turn off the TV, and put down your phone, and start living out those dreams that God has for you.
Bear Clifton, writer and screenwriter, is the pastor of BridgeWay Community Church in California, Maryland. His blogs, screenplays and devotionals can be enjoyed at his ministry website: trainyourselfministry.com and his writing website: blclifton.com. Bear is also the author of “Train Yourself To Be Godly: A 40 Day Journey Toward Sexual Wholeness”, “Ben-Hur: The Odyssey”, “A Sparrow Could Fall”, and his latest – “Living Under The Cross”, a collection of essays on the Beatitudes – all available through Amazon.