Summary: Our identity is revealed by what is seen in our lives. We must produce much good fruit in our lives, if we ever hope to make a difference in the lives of others. God's life in us can and will bring good life change.
PRODUCING GOOD FRUIT
Matthew 7:15-23 15 "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
Intro: I have been eating lots of fruit and vegetables over the past few months. I have come to like some kinds of fruit almost as much as I like dessert. There is nothing like a good nectarine, so juicy and sweet, with just a little tangy flavor to it. And those Hermiston watermelons. Wow! When you get a good ripe one, I am fairly certain that those will be served in heaven. I have also been juicing several fruits. One of my favorites is grapefruit, orange, and apple. Well, before you make a run on the grocery store, I’d better get on with the message.
-Jesus said that we would know people by their fruits. He also said that we should be producing plenty of good fruit in our own lives. Some people produce a lot of fruit in their lives, but most of it is bad fruit. They get results, but not the kind you really want. We may find ourselves making excuses for the lack of good fruit in our lives. “Oh, I am too busy to bother with that. I don’t have time to plant, water, cultivate, or nurture the fruit that should be growing in my life.” Or maybe we think we are incapable of producing the good fruit that is needed in our lives. We say, “I could never do that. I’m just not good with words.” Or, “I need my sleep. I can’t wake up that early in the morning to spend time with the Lord.” Whatever our excuses might be for not producing the good fruit that Jesus wants from us, there is a name for them: fruit loops! Instead of doing God’s will and pursuing whatever it takes to help us grow, we come up with loop holes to avoid the responsibility of growing fruit in our lives. Well, fruit loops won’t cut it! We must have the real fruit in our lives so we can make a positive impact on the world, and so we can please our Creator. Besides, there are already enough fruit loops in the world today. God’s people in this community are called to be fruit producers, not fruit loops. Jesus made it clear: only good trees bear good fruit, and bad trees bear bad fruit. People will know what kind of tree we are by the fruit they see in our lives. Our identity is revealed by what is seen in our lives. Now, here is the main idea I’d like to discuss today.
Prop: We must produce much good fruit in our lives, if we ever hope to make a difference in the lives of others.
Interrogative: How can we get the good fruit to grow in our lives?
TS: Today, we will be looking at types of fruit and discuss how to grow the good stuff.
I. Undesirable Fruit
-Somebody once said, “Forbidden fruit is responsible for many a bad jam.” The first forbidden fruit we see is in the garden of Eden when God said, “Don’t!” Of the thousands of wonderful things Adam & Eve could have enjoyed in the garden, they desired what was forbidden. There is a book titled, “The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank.” Some things can look so good and desirable, but underneath is the filth and stench of something repulsive and disgusting. Proverbs 14:12 says 12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
-Now apples seem to be one of the most common fruits, so I have made some comparisons with different kinds of apples to show some of the bad or undesirable fruit that we must guard against in our lives.
A. Sour Apples – These speak of bitterness and unforgiveness. Maybe someone offended you, and you have allowed that to make you hard and bitter. Gossip is one thing that can breed sour apples. However, Hebrews 12:15 warns against allowing any root of bitterness to spring up, causing trouble. It says that bitterness not only affects you, but is harmful to those around you as well. When we are bitter, it affects our spouse, our children, our friends, and our acquaintances. It is so easy to spread bitterness. God will not bless bitter people, and He will not bless a bitter church. If you find yourself allowing bitterness to grow in your heart, please don’t let it grow any more. Call on the Lord, and ask Him for the grace to help you forgive the person(s) you are having difficulty with. Then, according to Matt. 5 and Matt. 18, go and make things right with them. Throw out the sour apples from your life and don’t become one.