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But the ones fell on the good ground are those who, having heard that the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.
Luke 8:15

This is the third of a three-part series.

Jesus calls us to bear fruit, bear fruit abundantly and bear fruit “with patience.” Obviously, as we saw in the first passage of Scripture used in this series, that we determine to bear this spiritual fruit is a big deal to Him. So why isn’t every Christ-follower blossoming to his or her full potential?

These words are hard to write – and admittedly harder to read – but the fruit a follower bears in the Savior’s image is directly proportionate to his or her dedication to Jesus Himself. What we put in to our Christian walk – as well as where we take it and what we do with it when we get there – reflects what we get out of it. In other words, our ability to bear this fruit is absolutely a matter of what the Apostle Paul deems “pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). As representatives of Jesus, we flourish by our obedience, but we wither – that’s right; our sanctified lifestyle regresses – each time we exercise knowing disobedience toward Him.

The nurturing of said dedication, however, requires the Christian community as a whole to work together to tend each other. This is especially true in cases where reasons for disobedience and the lack of fruit-bearing that ensues are neither straight-forward nor deliberate. The bottom line is that careless things happen. There’s a falling out with a fellow Christian. Or a church becomes so pre-occupied with “projects” that it fails to recognize needs within its own congregation. Or one Christ-follower’s well-intentioned “advice” comes across as criticism that lowers the self-worth of its object. The list goes on, but whatever the circumstances, nine times out of ten:

            hearts harden;

             souls pull away;

                                     trees cease bearing;

                                                 and testimonies suffer,
not because of Jesus – never because of Him – but because of people and circumstances, miscommunication and misinterpretation. And sometimes just a flat-out jab of Satan on wearied human minds.

If by some misfortune you find yourself in this situation and you’re reading these words, there’s good news. You can – and by God’s grace you will – bear fruit for Christ again. The most effective way to do so is to retrace your steps to the point where you first fell in love with Jesus, the Bread of Life.

Take the time – a week, a month, a year if necessary – to read and study nothing but the Word of God and applicable material; let it fill you afresh with love for the One Who First Loved You. Remember the peace and joy that came as you met and got to know Him as your Personal Savior and welcomed Him as Lord of your life. Let your heart and mind return to those days when you first learned you’d been forgiven by His work at Calvary, your destiny was changed, and you knew and accepted it by faith with your whole being. Rest there for a while in His grace and mercy.

Above all, understand that God is faithful even when His children are not. He does call us lovingly back to Himself; sometimes He even comes to find us. But in order to avoid withering like our fig tree back in Part 1 of this series, we must listen in submission and obedience to His voice, then respond accordingly.

The journey is worth the time and effort. After all, it’s serious business, the fate of this fig tree.