In my morning Bible study, I finished my investigation of the ‘How to s’ of being a spiritual FRUIT INSPECTOR:
“Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper FRUITS of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you–unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected?” (2 Corinthians 13:5 AMP).
In The Good Old Days:
When I first met the girl that I married, when I visited her home, I always noticed there were avocados in a bowl on the kitchen table. Her mom would slice them, dice them, have them for every meal except breakfast. After awhile, I asked the obvious question, “Why so many avocados at every meal?” The only avocados I had been exposed to wasn’t sliced or in a salad. It was something all mashed up in a bowl with tortilla chips along side and we call it, guacamole! Not AVOCADOS. The reason behind her folks never-ending supply of fruit was her dad had a small citrus and avocado ranch in Vista, California. He would go up to the family ranch on the week-ends to work the groves, then return home with sacks of freshly picked FRUIT. Dianne would occasionally go with her mom and dad and get lessons on how to choose the ‘right fruit’ from the tree.
During our courtship, I became such a fan of avocados, I wanted to know everything I could about them; varieties, where could you grow the trees and…how do you tell if the avocados are ripe enough to pick and eat. Actually, the eating part was the most important question.
After we were married, Dianne’s mom and dad would come to visit us, bringing a large bag of different varieties of avocados to enjoy (the bag was never large enough in my opinion).
One evening, I decided to cut up and slice some avocados for dinner. You know, just to help out. Immediately, with a firm authoritative voice from another room, “Mel, don’t get into the avocados yet, they’re NOT RIPE yet!” Now I had a big dilemma to deal with: Do I ignore the command or, put it back in the bowl and find exactly how to inspect the fruit for ripeness from an expert? Needless to say, I chose the latter. I’m better at it today, but not as good a my helpmate!
INSPECTING/TESTING THE FRUIT FOR RIPENESS:
Avocados I’ve learned, change their color when ripening; from bright green to brown-green/dark brown in color. Hold the suspected, ready-to-eat fruit in the palm of your hand and gently press the stem end. That’s the end of course, that was attached to the limb of the tree. If it gives just slightly from the gentle pressure, it’s READY FOR USE.
The Colorado Department of Agriculture provides a service to its citizens for the QUALITY of its produce:
“This program provides a quality inspection service to the produce industry of Colorado… The inspection service ensures the shipment of high quality fruits and vegetables [they don’t grow avocados in Colorado] and enhances Colorado’s reputation as a supplier of superior produce.”
QUESTION: Do Christian believers have a similar quality inspection service?
Well, if we don’t, we should have and the Apostle Paul speaks to us in God’s Word about the importance of Self-Appointed ‘FRUIT INSPECTORS.’ This particular blog IS NOT about examining, inspecting, evaluating and testing AVOCADOS. It’s about our holding to our FAITH and showing the ripeness; the outward appearance of our FRUITFULNESS
AGAIN, IT’S TIME FOR INVENTORY:
Oh, how I hated INVENTORY time at my job. Preparing the shelf-stock, putting stock in order for easier counting, getting rid of dead stock in a ‘quick-sale’ area of the warehouse. And the late nights, blurry eyes, and joint pain in the knees and back from kneeling down to inspect and count items on the bottom shelf? Not something I looked forward too.
One Sunday morning, a church member said to his pastor, “If you see me fall asleep while you’re preaching, don’t take it personally. It’s not that your message is boring. It’s just that I was taking inventory of the stores merchandize last night and didn’t get to bed until the wee hours of the morning. This is the time of year for inventory. I discovered a lot of ‘STUFF’ that didn’t sell during the year and I realized how many mistakes I had made. Some shelves were empty and others were full of items that had not sold. Apparently I had bought too much of what I shouldn’t have and didn’t buy enough of others that were good sellers.” Then he asked the pastor, “Don’t you think that sometime during the year, every one of us should take inventory [like a “FRUIT INSPECTOR”] and TEST our lives?”
THE SELF-EXAMINATION BEGINS:
The main purpose of taking inventory; whether at a place of business or the avocados on your kitchen counter, is to determine whether a loss or gain has been realized. Do you have to throw anything away because it doesn’t have value any longer? We have to ask ourselves how our lives have influenced others around us. We learn from a look at our past, our present–even our plans for the future.
How to EXAMINE the FRUIT Inventory.
First, COUNT OUR BLESSINGS:
The VALUE of INSPECTION:
–Makes us appreciate how well we are.
–Makes us more generous.
–Helps us sympathize with those in need.
–Use our memories when times become difficult.
–Turns our thoughts toward God.
The NEGATIVE ASPECT Of FRUIT EXAMINATION:
1. TRIALS–teaches us patience and compassion.
2. FAILURES–teaches us the value of confession.
The BENEFIT of looking at our NEGATIVE past is to not make the same mistakes again. As the saying goes, “Those who ignore the past is so that we won’t make the same mistakes again.” Boy, have I learned from that saying!
Don’t look too long at the past or you may fall prey to gloomy disposition which Satan will certainly use for defeat!
A Biblical Example of FRUIT INSPECTION:
Jesus gives us this illustration of a certain man who had planted a fig tree in his vineyard. One day, he came looking for FRUIT on it, but couldn’t find any. Let’s pick up the parable at verse 7, Chapter 13 of Luke:
“So he said to the vinedresser, See here! For these three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree and I find none. Cut it down! Why should it continue also to use up the ground (to deplete the soil, intercept the sun, and take up room]? But he replied to him, Leave it alone, sir, [just] this one more year till I dig around it and put manure [on the soil]. Then perhaps it will BEAR FRUIT after this; but if not, you can cut it down and out.”
Maybe you are like that ‘fig tree’ or an avocado tree on the family ranch. Once you had a great experience with Father God. You made a promise to be faithful and even FRUITFUL. God has watched over you and your family, cared for you and blessed you through the years. But you have disappointed Him; you haven’t been FAITHFUL and borne any FRUIT in your life. Who knows but that you may be cut down before another year is over. BUT thank God! He is giving you more time for fruit bearing! He is eternally the God of the second chance. So if your PAST haunts you, let God help you not to REPEAT its mistakes.
A Look At The PRESENT–
A TRUE spiritual inventory not only includes a look backward, but involves a careful INSPECTION of our PRESENT LIVES. To do this, TWO THINGS must be inspected:
1. Our ATTITUDES.
2. Our ACTIONS.
Is our belief up-to-date? Have you checked lately? If it is, then we will pass inspection.
“Inner Attitudes ALWAYS Determine Outward Performance.”
The Lord works from inside out. If we’re NOT “working out our salvation,” it is likely that we have no salvation at all! JESUS said, “He who is not with Me [definitely on My side] is against Me, and he who does not [definitely] gather with Me and for My side scatters” (Matthew 12:30 AMP).
To be with someone in this sense means to share the same values, interests, and concerns. For believers it means Jesus’ way of life becomes ours. That’s the biblical definition of belief!
A Look to the FUTURE–
I believe, like others do, that our present determines our future: CHANGE–IMPROVEMENT–PROGRESS! That’s the whole purpose of self-evaluation or being Self-Appointed ‘FRUIT INSPECTORS’.
I’m not the person who makes New Years Resolutions every year. But I have found lately, wanting to LEARN more about them when I read, “It’s better to MAKE RESOLUTIONS and keep them for a while, than NEVER to have made them at all!” Let me tell you why.
Bible Characters and Resolutions Made:
–Jacob’s resolve in bringing his tithe to the Lord was based on the dream that he had at Bethel; angels going up and down a ladder. Upon awakening, Jacob looked up to God and said, “…and of all [the increase of possessions] that You give me I will give the tenth to You” (Genesis 28:22 AMP).
FACT– Jacob had nothing to call his own; making the vow and not keeping it faithfully. But when he did, God HEAPED rich blessings upon him.
–David made TWO RESOLUTIONS:
1. To read the Scriptures and adopt them as the standard of his life. (Psalm 1:2-3).
2. To be a man of prayer: “Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live.” (Psalm 17:6).
A Lesson In FRUIT INSPECTION; How To EXAMINE YOURSELF:
“Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves. Do you not yourselves realize and know that Jesus Christ is in you–unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected? But I hope you will recognize and know that we are not disapproved on trial and rejected” (2 Corinthians 13:5-6).
When we are out of line of the Christian standards laid down in God’s Word, we have to ask ourselves “Am I a TRUE Christian, or am I a counterfeit? Have I been born again, or am I only putting up a front?” Those of us who are Christians ought to ask ourselves those same questions periodically, an internal inventory–especially if there is any kind of wrong behavior involved. The very fact that Paul could ask a question like that gives us an indication of what marks TRUE CHRISTIANITY.
A Christian, of course, is not simply one who joins a Christian church. Nor adhering to a certain moral standard laid down in your life; “Don’t lie, don’t smoke, don’t chew or go around with girls that do” approach. Or, that you consistently read the Bible; that doesn’t make you righteous. Although righteous people do read their Bible.
A TRUE Christian is someone whom Christ indwells. That person will have certain inescapable evidence of that fact given to him or her. The apostle Paul suggests, if we ask ourselves, “Are we SHOWING the evidence of [the FRUIT]; that Jesus Christ lives in us?”
You may be asking, “How can I know that?” You can go to Scripture for the answer:
“The Spirit Himself [thus] testifies together with our own spirit, [assuring us] that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16).
There is an inner testimony, a feeling, a sense from within produced by the Spirit of God; that’s dwelling inside of you, assuring that you are part of the great family of God.
The inner change from within–
Inner change will also produce an outward change. The INNER CHANGE causes the ‘ripeness,’ the ‘texture’ of the fruit which produces a different attitude towards our behavior, our outside appearance. We can confidently answer the question, “Is Jesus Christ in you?”
The INNER CHANGE is a striking observation about new Christians. I can remember driving down the highway one afternoon with my best friend, right after I was SAVED. After a car cut me off in traffic, preventing me from exiting the off-ramp, Ronnie said, “Your underwhelming reaction was a shock to me.” “Really? How so?” “Well, in the past you would have yelled and probably displayed an obscene gesture.” Had I really displayed an inner change to my friend? Was I different on the outside from an earlier “born-again”experience on the inside? I had manifested a totally different attitude toward external things and was unaware of the inner change.
Even our ATTITUDE toward our SELFISHNESS changes–
We see how selfish we have been in the past. It looks ugly and distasteful to our eyes; like a bruised piece of fruit on a roadside stand. We want to be free of the spoiled fruit.
It’s not easy being a “fruit inspector” of self! So when it all comes to life application, we should asked ourselves the question: “What is the evidence that we can really know, that others can see? It might be time for a re-evaluation, an inventory of your FRUITFULNESS.