Last night my family and I were driving through a subdivision on the outskirts of Orlando and saw a small retention pond with about 50 Mallards, went around the corner and saw another pond full of birds, and again and again, Mallards, Ring Necks, Woodies, Teal, Mergansers and more. All I can think of is how few birds I saw when the season is in and now they are everywhere.
I serve as the chaplain the University of Central Florida’s Football team and have served in the past for a number of other sports. Just like the ducks on the retention pond every where I go I talk to people who “believe” in God. My question is where are they during the season? Or more correctly put. Where is the fruit? The Bible tells us that if we are in Christ we will bear fruit. John 15:1-8 says "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
A few years ago I took a real hard look at this passage and my own life. I questioned my fruit. Is it the fruit of the Spirit as in Galatians 5:22-26 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Or is it the fruit of the sinful nature as in verses 19-21 “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
I realized that my life more represented verses 19-21 than the fruit of the spirit, and something I realized is just as Christ Righteousness saves me and not my own. His righteousness sanctifies me, making me a new creation. He promises in Philippians 1:6 “…that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” I looked hard at myself and asked “Is God sanctifying me, am I being changed more into the image of Christ, and why not?” He tells us if I remain in him and he in me I will bear much fruit. I looked at James 2:18-20 “But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. “You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?”
I realized that my faith was very similar to that of demons; I didn’t know what to do. I cried out to God and said change me. Make me into your image. I have to tell you he is changing me more and more like him. Sometimes that fruit of the Spirit is clearly evident not because of what I do but because of the changes he is making in me. Other times I see the fruit of the sinful nature which fills me with disgust for myself and reminds me it is not my righteousness but Gods. I find great joy in the promise given to us in the book of Jude verses 24 and 25 “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”