It was such a tempting bowl of shiny red delicious apples on the table. Who could resist? I picked up one of the red beauties, anticipating the crunchy, juicy first bite, but instead stuck my finger right into a brown, mushy, rotten bruise on the underside. Thankfully, there was no worm in it, but how disappointing it was to find that all the apples touching the mushy part were spoiled, too. The summer day's heat added to the decaying process as that one bad apple spoiled the whole bunch.
There are people who fear God and those who don’t. When a person fears the Lord, his speech and behavior reflect that, and his life shows evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus said in John 15:5 (NIV), "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me, you can do nothing.” Such fruit is important to the Lord because, as He said in John 15:8 (NIV), “This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.”
The level of our commitment to Christ, as evidenced by the presence or absence of the fruit of the Spirit we display, is also indicative of our fear of the Lord. Evil and sin cannot creep into a life wholly committed to serving Christ because the fear of the Lord acts as a barrier against evil. Proverbs 16:6 (NIV) advises that through love and faithfulness, sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD, a man avoids evil.
Choosing Godly friends enhances the development of the fruit of the Spirit as we learn and grow together in the things that please the Lord. Just as one bad apple spoils the whole bunch, Paul cautions us in 1 Corinthians 15:33-34, Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God — I say this to your shame.
The decomposition process in fruit takes very little time--sometimes, within a few hours, it can rot. Once the fruit is cut off from its vine or source of life, decaying begins immediately. Jesus said that apart from Him, we can do nothing. When we get comfortable with a little bit of sin, it doesn’t take long for that small little mushy “bruise” of sin to enlarge, and before we know it, the fear of the Lord disappears from our conscience. In effect, our spiritual guard is let down, and bad fruit results. Enticing temptations and evil become hard to resist. Consistently keeping company with those who do not fear the Lord will inevitably weaken even the strongest Christian’s faith because bad company corrupts.
The lovely bowl of juicy red apples would have lasted much longer if cared for properly. Ridding the bowl of the one bad apple would have preserved the lives of all the others. Beware of those who mock God and do not believe in Him. Our mission here is to bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, teaching them the fear of the Lord by example. We are to guard our close friendships, though, and surround ourselves with like-minded, God-fearing believers so that we encourage each other in Christlikeness.
What are the fruits the Lord looks for? Each one is luscious and good! Each one is a divine character trait of Jesus! Galatians 5:22-23 describes them: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.
© 2022, Chris Werre