I remember in my teen years, my folks planting a lemon tree at the back of their property, next to a fence bordering an alley. This wasn’t an ordinary lemon tree, this was a MEYER LEMON tree. A cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange. In my opinion, the tastiest lemon ever!
Now this tree was a special tree to our family, for it bore fruit almost year round. It wasn’t suppose to, but it did! It always seemed filled with bright, round yellow lemons. So much so that it seemed many of the tree’s branches were on the verge of snapping under the weight of the fruit.
Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV):
 And this is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,  so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ,  filled with the FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God. [ I capitalized “fruit of righteousness,” only for illustration]
This letter of the apostle Paul to the church at Philippi, a church that he established, is a letter of thanks for their GIFT. Also, it is a letter of encouragement, to stand firm in the faith, to exhort them in humility and unity.
This particular church was a special delight to Paul. He had developed a bond of love and mutual confidence with this church unequaled elsewhere. Consequently this is the most personal of Paul’s letters not written to individuals.
“And this I pray” (vs. 9), his prayer for this church comes to a crescendo in verse 11:
May you be “filled with the fruit of righteousness…”
The word “FILLED” (pleroo – Grk.) means “filled to all fullness.” Sort of like the Thompson family Meyer Lemon tree.
Paul is seeking spiritual fruit for the true believers at this church; he earnestly PRAYS for them to be “filled to all fullness”, and the “fullness of fruit” only comes “through Jesus Christ”.
John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, he says “none but a good tree can bring forth good fruit, so none but a tree of righteousness can bear fruits of righteousness.”
It is only as Christians abide in Jesus, allowing Christ (John 15:4-5) to live His resurrected life through us (Galatians 2:20) can we be fruitful and glorify God.
So how do we, the CHURCH bring forth SPIRITUAL FRUIT?
Well, returning to my ‘love of gardening’ roots…before FRUIT can appear on a tree, it must BLOSSOM FIRST. Following the natural progression of a fruit bearing tree, not only does the tree blossom first–then leafs out in the Spring–then the FRUIT follows.
In my study this past week, I discovered that believers in Christ are called “oaks [trees] of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3, AMP)
By nature, we are barren; not one good blossom growing on us; but when by FAITH, grafted into Christ Jesus (like the lemon tree ingrafted to the mandarin orange tree), then we are able grow and bear fruit.
Here’s a good word to add to your vocabulary: Plagiarism; meaning the belief that original sin do not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good and evil without special divine will” [See footnote [i] ].
In other words, we have sufficiency of ourselves that brings forth good fruit; but what’s wrong with this claim? Doesn’t the ROOT contribute to the branches? Is not Christ’s precise FULLNESS what we receive?
“For out of His FULLNESS (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift” (John 1:16 AMP).
JESUS then is that ROOT which shoots up that sap of grace, His branches. THAT’S US CHURCH!
IT’S HIS GRACE!
“I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice…” (Song of Songs 5:1 – NIV).
Christ doesn’t say, “your myrrh,” but “My myrrh.” If Christians are to bear FRUIT, we are indebted to Christ Jesus for it; it’s His myrrh.
And in Hosea 14:8: “…I am like a green fir or cypress tree; with Me is the fruit found [which is to nourish you].”
“None but a good tree can bring forth good fruit, so none but a tree of righteousness can bear fruits of righteousness” [Found in John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible].
What is that FRUIT which a sincere Christian brings to the table?
I love the fresh fruit that’s available during the Summer months. They’re fresh, juicy, and beautiful to look at.
And like the plate of Summer Fruit, what we as followers of Jesus should bring to the table year round, should demonstrate the quality of the fruit as well:
- Inward FRUIT
- Outward FRUIT
- Kindly FRUIT
- Seasonable FRUIT
Bringing forth the Inward FRUIT – Galatians 5:22-23:
“The FRUIT of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence)…”
The FRUIT listed is sweet and mellow, growing under the Son of righteousness.
Outward FRUIT – Proverbs 15:4:
“A gentle tongue is a tree of life…”
A Christian who is full to the brim with righteousness brings to the table the FRUIT of good speech.
He also brings forth the FRUIT of Good Works (Colossians 1:10):
“…bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God…”
God will say on the Last Day, “…you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can] and I by [good] works [of obedience] will show you my faith” (James 2:18).
Kindly FRUIT – Psalm 1:3:
“…ready to bring forth its fruit in its season”
That is, one brings forth that FRUIT which is proper for one to bear.
PROPER FRUIT means when we, as Christians, are living holy in our callings and relationships. As an example, in a JUDGE, Justice is the kindly fruit: Deuteronomy 16:19 says,
“You shall not misinterpret or misapply judgment; you shall not be partial, or take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.”
PROPER FRUIT ON THE TABLE:
…in a pastor, ZEAL (Acts 17:16).
…in a parent, INSTRUCTION (Deut. 4:10).
…in a child, OBEDIENCE (Ephesians 6:1).
…in a husband, LOVE (Ephesians 5:25).
…in the wife, SUBMISSION (Ephesians 5:22).
Lastly, SINCERITY brings Seasonable FRUIT –
Psalm 1:3 says, “bring forth its fruit in its season”;
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that “everything is beautiful in His time”.
There is a great amount of discernment that comes in to play in the right timing of a thing. Consider that the seasonableness of a thing, puts a value on it.
For an example, our COMFORTING others must be seasonable.
Proverbs 15:13 says, “A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken.
When the spirit is broken, a word of comfort spoken in season is putting it in joint again.
The words that we can say in season in comfort. or sometimes, just being there with someone in time of brokenness to comfort them with a hug, without speaking any words, can be of great value.
Job’s friends pretended to comfort him–but instead of pouring oil into the wound, they poured vinegar.
“Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul.”
Let all the trees of righteousness bring forth seasonable fruit.
- In prosperity, be thankful.
- In adversity, be patient. “To everything there is a season.”
Consider that the seasonableness of a thing, puts a value and preciousness on it.
In summary, RIGHTEOUSNESS doesn’t come from our good works, but is credited to us according to our FAITH.
The same is true for the Fruits of Righteousness.
By FAITH we must earnestly seek to complete the GOOD WORK God has already prepared for us; but the FRUIT of our labor comes through Jesus–only by His strength do we have strength.
Only through Jesus will we have the power to run the race set before us with endurance; and only Jesus can produce fruit in our lives. Only Jesus can bring forth increase. By our own power we can do nothing.
Jesus said, “If you live in Me and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. When you bear much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine” (John 15:7-8).
Living a consistent lifestyle in Christ and His words abiding in us, in order to produce perfect knowledge and discernment, gives us the foundation to build upon.
So our purpose is to be a man or woman who God can use to bear FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS that God can be glorified.
“RIGHTEOUSNESS is the action and positive result from a sound relationship between God and men” (Quote by John Harvey, pastor of Life Quest Church).
We have God’s Promise–if we love God’s Word and do these things. we will succeed and will bear fruit.
Credits & Footnotes:
Footnote [i] : Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Photo Credits: Google Image Search and Photo Pin.
Bible Translations: Amplified Bible, except where noted.
Commentaries used for in this study: Howdy Partner! (Philippians 1:1-11) by Keith Krell @ Bible.org; John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible – Philippians 1:11 @ BibleStudyTools.com