Well, our growing season ended this past week as we had two killer frosts with overnight temperatures of 24 and 27 degrees F. Most of our garden was pretty much ready to harvest anyway except some of the tomatoes. We covered them, but the vines froze even through the covers. So, we spent a couple days harvesting all the squash, pumpkins and tomatoes, and pulling out all the frozen plants to give our deer herd some special treats! They gathered around the garden fence as we pulled out the vines, corn stalks, etc. Guess they were excited for the harvest too! We still have to dig potatoes, but otherwise our garden is done for the year—but not really, as we now begin working toward next year’s production by hauling in a big trailer load of manure, spreading it, rototilling it in and then covering it all with leaves when they fall. In other words, gardening is a lot of work, but the rewards are great as we have lots of fresh vegetables and fruit and plenty to share with others.
In order to have a bountiful harvest, there needs to be the preparation of the soil, which starts now in the fall and then continues in the spring as I rototill once more. Then the seeds must be sown. You can’t have a harvest without the sowing of seed—that’s pretty obvious! Then there must be consistent watering, and for the plants started inside and set out there must be the covering if it is going to frost. Then as the seeds germinate and the plants push up through the soil, there needs to be weeding, mulching and continued watering. Then finally, after 4-5 months comes the reward for all the labor—an abundant harvest of fruit.
I am reminded of Jesus’ statement to His disciples, as recorded by the Apostle John: “By this is My Father glorified that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain…” (Jn. 15:8,16). Our main purpose here on earth is to glorify God, and Jesus says one of the ways in which we do that is by “bearing much fruit.” In fact fruit bearing gives evidence that we really are a disciple (follower) of Jesus Christ. It indicates that we are abiding in the “Vine.” Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5). We are placed in the “Vine” (Jesus Christ) at the time we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit through faith in Christ for salvation. The Apostle Paul wrote: “But by His (God’s) doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (I Cor. 1:30). As we “abide” in Him by allowing Him to be our source of wisdom, strength, purpose, significance and service, He begins, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, producing fruit in and through our lives. It is important to notice Jesus said we are to “go and bear fruit” (Jn. 15:16). He is the producer, we are the bearer. Just as a branch merely bears or supports the fruit which the vine produces, our lives should bear or support the fruit God produces in and through us.
So, just what is the fruit of which Jesus spoke? For starters, it is the “fruit of the Spirit” which is “love , joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22,23). That is, it is Christlikeness which is the result of our “abiding in Him,” and being “conformed to His image” (Rom. 8:29). Again these qualities of love, joy, peace, etc. give proof of our having been “born again” (Jn. 3:3) and becoming “new creatures” (II Cor. 5:17) in Christ. For example, Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:35). Then, as we abide in Christ, and are “filled with” (controlled by) the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18), and “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within (us)” (Col. 3:16), we also bear fruit through good works, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). These “good works” are really just Christ at work through our lives in ministry to others as we become available through abiding in Him and in His Word. Again, this fruit of “good works” bears evidence of our relationship with Christ. Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit…So then, you will know them by their fruits” (Mt. 7:16-20).
Finally, we also “bear fruit” when we “reproduce according to our kind,” i.e., when we help another sinner find forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus Christ. And what does that take? It takes preparing the soil (their heart) through befriending and loving them, and praying for them. Then It takes sowing the seed, which is the Word of God, in their life. We build bridges of relationship with them so that we can share the truths of God’s Word with them concerning their need for Christ and what He has done for them. Then it takes watering through continuing to love them and pray for them. Then as the seed (God’s Word) germinates in their heart and springs forth to new life (I Pet. 1:23), it takes continuing to water and weed and care for the new tender plants (new believer), helping them to grow and mature in order that they too may “bear much fruit.”
These are “The Laws of Harvest.” Paul wrote: “…for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7). If we don’t sow, we don’t reap, and we reap what we sow. We need to sow the “precious seed” of the Word of God. “For you have been born again, not of seed which is perishable, but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God” (I Pet. 1:23). But we don’t just sow the seed and then neglect the garden. We continue to water, weed and care for it. Jesus told His disciples (and us) to “Go and make disciples…” (Mt. 28:19).
Is your life glorifying to God? Are you a fruit-bearing Christian? Do others see the “fruit of the Spirit” in your life? Is your life characterized by “good works”? Are you sowing the seed of the word of God in hearts and helping people come to know Jesus as their Savior? Are you discipling others to help them grow and also bear fruit? If you can’t answer “yes” to these questions, what changes do you need to make in your life, knowing that this is God’s purpose for your continuing on this earth?
A fellow gardener,