Saturday, July 4, 2015

Flourishing Spiritually

 
The Cabernet Sauvignon grape
 growing at the Cascia vineyard.

Credit: M. Cascia, nasa.gov 
        The Bible invites us to lay aside any unproductive works we might be engaged in, and rather to cultivate beneficial works, bearing spiritual fruit. Paul listed nine types of spiritual fruit in the King James Version: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.  Three more included in the Vulgate are generosity, modesty, and chastity.  These twelve fruits of the Spirit have traditionally demonstrated the kind of results we can expect from living and walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23; 
Catholic Church 1832).
            Jesus gave several examples to illustrate the importance of bearing good fruit.  One was about knowing false prophets by the fruits they bear (Mathew 7:15-20).  Another was about the seed landing among thorns and being choked out by the distractions of life, “and bring no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8:14).  On the night He gave Himself up for us, after instituting the Lord’s Supper, He gave the parable about the vine being pruned to bear more fruit and said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
            The first fruit Paul listed, love, is how Jesus said everyone could tell whether or not we actually are His disciples (John 13:35). Some are also included in the attributes of love in his first letter to the Corinthians.  Others exemplify the types of growth we can expect as our faith matures.  Like “the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month” along the banks of the river in the city of New Jerusalem, God invites us to flourish spiritually, bearing all kinds of good fruit in our lives (Revelation 22:2).