Trees amaze me. You can take two different kinds of trees, plant them in the same soil, give them the same water, fertilizer, and sunshine, and they’ll grow differently. Each has it’s own style of growth, bark, and leaves. And each produce different kinds of fruit. I don’t know how it works, but I do know God designed it that way.
For all the things that make trees amazing, each can naturally produce only one kind of fruit. That’s the trouble – you can’t rely on apple trees to produce bananas, or banana trees to produce watermelons.
However, the Bible talks about some trees that are unique. In Revelation, it mentions trees in heaven that produce 12 different kinds of fruit:
And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
– Revelation 22:1-2 (NAS)
Thinking about those trees, it occurred to me that they are similar to you and me. When we lived as the world, we were like earthly trees: we produced only one kind of fruit, and that was the corrupted kind that led to death. But now as believers, we can produce multiple kinds of good fruit, just like those heavenly trees. I counted at least twelve kinds in Galatians 5:22-23, Ephesians 5:9, and 2 Peter 1:6-7: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, Self-control, Righteousness, Truth, and Godliness. These are the results of a healthy spiritual life.
I think it’s great that we can now bear spiritual fruit, the kind that lasts (John 15:16), but personally I tend to get satisfied with bearing just the easy ones. I know I need to work on the harder fruits, and produce them continually, too. We were saved to produce fruit for God (Romans 7:4), but how is this to be done?
The trees in Revelation hold the key to how we can produce them all. They were planted by a stream that ran down New Jerusalem’s “main street” from the throne of God. This recalls the psalm where it says:
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season,
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
– Psalm 1:1-3 (NAS)
The heavenly trees flourish because they are constantly fed by the stream of living water that comes down from God’s throne. We are fed the same way. The stream of living water is God’s word.
How’s your fruit? Are you producing all you should? Are you producing any at all? If not, something is hindering growth and it needs to be corrected.
Producing fruit is not something you can work at yourself, on your own. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit. But you can improve the conditions for developing fruit by not walking in the way of the world, and by delighting in and meditating on God’s word continually (“day and night”). Maybe you can’t read and study the Bible at any hour of the day, but you can meditate on what you’ve read at work, on the road, and lying in bed. You can share what you’ve learned with other believers. You can practice what you’ve learned, which leads to deeper understanding. This is making the ground good, which Jesus said will produce fruit many times more than that sown (Matthew 13:23). So if you want to produce more fruit, work on improving the soil, and don’t leave the stream!