[We will return to the series on the Messianic Psalms after three posts by Larry Clamp. We trust you will enjoy these. (Eds.)]
My family owned a cherry orchard in Montana when I was a kid. It was located on the east side of the beautiful Flathead Lake where the primary crop was exquisite Lambert cherries. If you’ve ever tended an orchard you know how much work is involved, everything from pruning to moving irrigation pipe, tending rows, and bringing in the harvest. It was a lot of hard work that I learned to endure early on; the enjoyment of which I have held onto throughout my life.
But what has endured most was the discovery of what a simple tree can accomplish from bud to harvest. Born from a seemingly lifeless limb, a little nub swells and springs forth, pushing out a gorgeous blossom to produce fruit and tender leaves to nourish new growth. At times you can almost see the fruit develop before your eyes, at other times it seems it will never ripen. It takes patience and tending but it is always worth the wait. And eventually, the harvest always comes.
The whole orchard idea was a lifelong dream of my father, who spent many summers as a boy working the orchards of western Colorado. One major kink in his operation was the novice crew doing much of the work; namely his own children. But he was able to direct our efforts and teach us what we needed to know in order to make it all work in the end. I know he was relieved he didn’t have to rely on his kids to pick the cherries, because that was a monumental task that we could never have accomplished. Thankfully, there were experts available to bring the harvest in when the time was right.
At season’s end, we enjoyed the benefits of our labor in both material substance and in the satisfaction that comes from witnessing such a harvest. Seeing the full bins of sweet, dark cherries heading to a waiting market is something to behold, and a sight of pure joy to the grower. That time arrived after countless hours of toil, moments of trepidation over things beyond our control, and uncertainty as to the final yield. Tucking the season away was met with a real feeling of relief.
As we witnessed this annual closing of the “circle of life,” we knew that relief would be short-lived and that the cycle would begin anew in just a few months. For the farmer, there is always next year and, hopefully, a better crop waiting at the end.
What a fitting metaphor is the “fruit of the vine” for our spiritual life and growth. It is no surprise the Lord would use such a wonder of His creation as a symbol to so often encourage us on to full growth in Christ. Indeed, like the stirring of the lifeless vine in spring, He has raised us up “from among the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God,” (Rom. 7:4, KJV).
Naively, I often considered spiritual fruit in my life being of benefit only to myself and, perhaps, to my fellow believers. But how wonderful to realize this fruit is conceived, borne, and ripened by God for presentation to Himself, that we might be able to glorify Him by that which He produces in us. What a wondrous circle of life for us to behold.
It should be our delight to do this for our great God and Savior, for “who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit?” (1 Cor 9:7, KJV). Doesn’t our Lord deserve His full measure for all His work on our behalf?
Not only can we offer Him praise continually by the “fruit of lips that acknowledge His name,” (Heb. 13:15), but we can also offer up our spiritual fruit in appreciation for what He has done in saving us from our sins. He has redeemed us from the bondage of sin and the law, a thought that should thoroughly compel us onward to growth for His glory. Consider Romans 7:5-6:
“For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”
What motivation for growing our faith! We are no longer bound by that which once enslaved us and are now compelled by our new nature to grow our faith. As the fruit on the limb has no choice but to grow (for the vine can’t have it any other way), so too does our Lord press us on to full growth in Christ.
As our own feebleness and frailties rob our confidence to face this challenge, we can be thankful we have the great Husbandman of John 15 to tend to the development of this fruit. This knowledge will be vital as we realize He has blessed us with the requirement for our own tender care over this spiritual growth. Together with Him, we each take part to nurture and grow in Christ and for Christ. Let us not be slack in this understanding if we are to truly develop ripened fruit worthy of our Master.
The earthly husbandman always has next year for which he must produce a new crop, for the things of worldly pursuits are not preserved for long. Our Lord, however, has eternity in view and works in us to produce eternal fruit. May we be motivated to grow our faith in devotion to Jesus Christ that He may be filled with the pleasing fruit of His beloved saints.