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It’s The Fruit and Not The Tree! (10.24.05--Making It!--Psalm 1:3)


Each year as the seasons change, so does the selection of fruit that is available at my local Piggly Wiggly. In early summer there are the tangy apricots and sweet plums along with nutty peaches and nectarines. As summer passes, though, so do the fruits. By late summer the crispness, even the flavor of these is waning and it is time to switch to something more in turn with the season. Now the succulent oranges and crisp pears arrive and they take the stage right into autumn. Then, as quickly as they come, they are gone and my eyes turn to Jonathan, Granny Smith and Rome apples. Everything in its season, everything in its appointed time. For me, the seasons are defined for me as much as by what I subtly witness in a Piggly Wiggly produce department as what is apparent on the pages of my wall calendar.


What defines the seasons of a Christian life? Is it what is apparent or is it something more subtle? Clarence Jordan was a man of unusual abilities and commitment. He had two Ph.D.’s. So gifted was he, he could have chosen to do anything he wanted. He chose to serve the poor. In the 1940’s, he founded a farm in Americus, Georgia, and called it Koinonia Farm. It was a community for poor whites and poor blacks. As you might guess, such an idea did not go over well in the Deep South of the ‘40s. In 1954, the Ku Klux Klan had enough of Clarence Jordan, so they decided to get rid of him. They came one night with guns and torches and set fire to every building on Koinonia Farm but Clarence’s home, which they riddled with bullets. The next day, a reporter came out to see what remained of the farm. The rubble still smoldered and the land was scorched, but he found Clarence in the field, hoeing and planting.


“Well, Dr. Jordan,” stated the reporter, “you got two of them Ph.D.’s and you’ve but fourteen years into this farm, and there’s nothing left of it at all. Just how successful do you think you’ve been?” Clarence stopped hoeing, turned toward the reporter with his penetrating blue eyes, and said quietly but firmly, “About as successful as the cross. Sir, I don’t think you understand us. What we are about is not success but faithfulness. We’re staying. Good day.” (Source Unknown.)


The hoeing and the planting. If we just keep the hoe and the seed before us, success will be a measure not of our skills or our intelligence. Rather, it will be measured by our faithfulness in persevering. The Bible tells us that you and I are like “a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season (Psalm 1:3). God defines success not by the apparent strength of our roots and boughs. Rather, He defines our success by the fruit that is brought forth because of these. He sees the seasons of our life by the fruit and not by the calendar. Godly success isn’t measured by outcome. Rather, it is better measured by how faithful you are in getting there in the first place. It’s the fruit and not the tree.

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