I'm a rather nerdy sort of person, and one of my hobbies (my definition of a hobby is something that you love to do but that is of little importance and therefore never gets done) is identifying trees. I like to be able to look at a tree’s bark or leaves and say, “That one is betula papyrifera (Paper birch),” or, “This one is prunus avium (Cherry tree).” However, when the tree has fruit on it, identifying it is a cinch. Anyone could tell you that a tree with pears on it is a pear tree. I mean, how could you help but know that a tree with apples on it is an apple tree, or a tree with bananas on it is a banana tree?
That’s how I want my life to be. When people look at me I want them to think, “Duh! What would she be besides a follower of Christ? How could someone who lives like that not be a child of God?” Just like a tree can be easily identified when it is bearing fruit, I will be easily identified as a Christian when I bear the fruits of the Spirit (they’re listed in Galatians 5, just in case you were wondering).
There’s a bit of a problem with that though. Even I can’t see the fruit of the Spirit in my life. How in the world are people supposed to recognize me as a Christian if I can’t even see Christ’s character in me? Sometimes I start to worry about this, and it gets me feeling down, but just the other day the Lord showed me something.
In Psalm 1:3, King David is describing a righteous man; a man that follows God. He says, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” There are several lessons in this verse. One is that a righteous person will bring forth fruit in his season. That makes sense, right? You wouldn’t want an apple tree to be trying to produce fruit in the dead of winter, it would kill itself. In the same way, Christ will produce in us the fruit of the Spirit in His time, when the time is right. Just having the promise that I will eventually produce the fruit of the Spirit is an encouragement to me, but did you catch the other part of it? Hidden in that last sentence is the thought that blew me away. Christ is the one producing the fruit. It is being planted by the rivers of water that causes the tree to prosper and bring forth fruit. The tree doesn’t have to worry, or even put in a lot of effort, to produce fruit. Bearing fruit is the natural result of being planted by the water.
So, what’s the water?
Isaiah 44:3 calls the Holy Spirit water, and throughout the Bible the Holy Spirit is described as being poured out on God’s people. Also, Christ offers us the water of life throughout the gospels, and when He returns to heaven, the gift He leaves behind is the Comforter, His Holy Spirit (read Acts 1 for an example). For me to be planted by the rivers of water, I need to be connected to the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is what feeds my soul, when it is the life blood of my spiritual walk, just like the tree nourished by the river, I will bear the fruit of the Spirit. It is that simple.