Reading about the good fruit and bad fruit that Jesus refers to in this passage can be discouraging in some ways. It’s kind of scary reading that “every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Certainly, if you’re a believer your life should bear good fruit.
However, I have seen times, particularly as a young believer, when those sinful areas of my life just didn’t go away immediately. Sometimes I even wondered about the reality of my faith because I continued to fail. But I remember clinging to Paul’s words in Ephesians chapter one, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” I had to believe that he was working in me, despite my struggles. I began to see more clearly that God’s loving kindness was leading me to remorse and repentance, and that this conviction of sin was in itself part of the good fruit that the Holy Spirit was working to produce in me. I held on to this truth, and became more patient. I trusted that He would complete the good work that He had begun in me.
As I grew in my faith and in my understanding of God’s character, I eventually began to lead a community group. Although the sinful, selfish part of me sometimes wanted to take a “rain check” on the meetings, I knew that I was committed, and I knew that God had prepared me for this task. (So often my biggest challenge with ministry opportunities is just getting myself there—and then I see God’s grace and sufficiency). I remember getting to those meetings and sensing that the Holy Spirit was at work in me and through me. I felt a real love for those around me, and His joy within me. The good fruit was evident, not because of my efforts, but because of His faithfulness.
I have to continue to remember that my salvation is not the result of my good works. I was saved by God’s grace. Likewise His grace is going to continue to lead me into bearing good fruit.
Written by Jon Hayes