Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Fruit of the Righteous ~ a Tree of Life

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who wins souls is wise.
(Proverbs 11:30)
It has been said that “you are what you eat.” I think that has application here. When you eat of the Tree of Life you become a tree of life yourself and the fruit of your life becomes a great blessing to others. The wisdom of God begins to shine in and through you and give light to those around you.

Let me put it this way:
Q. How do you “win friends and influence people?”
A. By eating of the tree of life.
The Righteous
Who are the righteous whose fruit is a tree of life to others? They are the ones who do what is right. They walk according to rightness. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). The Amplified Bible expands upon this righteousness of God as “His way of doing and being right.”

In other words, righteousness comes from God. Our own righteousness misses the mark of what God requires. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But, thank God, everything He ever requires of us, He has already provided. “For [God] made [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Notice that, in Christ, we not only receive the righteousness of God, we become it.

How do we receive and become the righteousness of God?

By faith. We discover this in the first book of the Bible, where it is said of Abraham,
And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)
We find this over and over in Scripture, but let one more example be sufficient. Paul said,
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (Galatians 2:16)
The righteous are the ones who are justified, that is, made right by faith in Jesus Christ.

The Fruit of the Righteous
Let’s consider what is the fruit of the righteous that becomes a tree of life for others. The Bible says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

This Spirit is the Holy Spirit at work in the spirit of every believer. He is the “breath of life” God puffed into Adam’s nostrils when Adam became of living being. He is the Spirit by whom we are “born again” in John 3:3-6 ( the Greek behind that phrase literally means “born from above”). The fruit the Spirit brings forth in us is life-giving for others because it comes from the source of life Himself.

Have you ever noticed that fruit is never pinned on to a tree from the outside? There would be no life in that. No, fruit comes from the inside of the tree and is the overflow of the life of the tree. That is why it can give life to others.

Earlier in Galatians 5 we read, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). Many Christians somehow get this verse backwards and think it means “Do not fulfill the lust of the flesh, and you will then be walking in the Spirit.”

That is poison. It is trying to pin fruit on to the tree of life, but it is actually eating the deadly fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The choice remains the same for us as it was for Adam and Eve:
  • Eat of the Tree of Life and overflow with the life of the Spirit, or
  • Eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and try to clip on the fruit of good (but dead) works.
One will bless many through you; the other won’t even bless you.

Receive the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ and let the life of the Holy Spirit work in your spirit to bring forth His wonderful live-giving fruit in you. Only by eating of the Tree of Life will you become a tree of life to others.