We just picked our first ever bucket of homegrown peaches! While this may not sound like anything special to most, for us, it was cause for a bit of rejoicing because we’ve been trying to get fruit from our three trees ever since we planted them over five years ago! It’s actually turned out to be harder to successfully grow peaches than we ever thought.
In all the previous seasons, we’d have plenty of blossoms and lots of fuzzy little baby peaches that were so full of bright promise… that is, until they got to be about the size of a nickel. Then insect infestation and/or fungus would invade and eventually destroy all the fruit long before we could pick anything.
This year, I was determined to do whatever it took to help our trees produce. So back in February, Clif headed off to the local nursery for advice and tips. After consulting a couple of different experts, a few websites, and even calling a local garden care radio talk show, he worked out a definitive tree care regiment using several different products.
What he and I learned is that these trees need special care throughout their whole fruiting cycle; blooming, budding, and periodically as the peach gets bigger, all the way up to harvest. It took a lot of work and diligence on the front end, but it seems to have finally paid off in ripe sweet and juicy peaches.
While it has definitely been worth the effort, I have to admit that what I really wanted was for us to plant the trees out back and then casually visit our mini orchard every summer to pick luscious fruit without any effort at all.
But, that’s not the way it is with peaches.
It doesn’t work that way with spiritual fruit either.
Make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. ~ 2 Peter 1:5-6
I was listening to the radio on the way home when a country crooner belted out and unexpected line …. “We cuss on them Mondays and pray on them Sundays.” As I was changing the station, it occurred to me that a whole lot of Christians live their lives just like that lyric from the song. They go to church faithfully, but what they hear has little effect on the way they live their lives the rest of the week, and all the while they wonder why they make the same mistakes, struggle with the same sins and see no real changes in their lives.
It’s because most believers have the same attitude about their lives as I did about my peaches. We want all the fruit with none of the work.
But in the above verses, Peter exhorts us to “make every effort” to add all these virtues to our lives. And “effort” requires, well, effort. We have to work at it… diligently, faithfully and with perseverance to see these attitudes develop.
Now let me remind you that it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to produce spiritual fruit. We can’t make it grow any more than I could do anything to force our tree make blossoms and peaches, but through persistence, patience and good old-fashioned hard work, I was definitely able to create a hospitable environment which encouraged fruitfulness.
And spiritually speaking, you can too.
By making daily lifestyle choices, (choosing what to look at, what to think about, where to go or not go, what to say or not say etc) you can create an environment in which the Spirit can grow within you the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Heb 12:11) that benefits you and invites others to “taste and see that the Lord is good! (Ps 34:8)
But … remember, harvest time isn’t the end. After the trees complete their fruiting in a month or so, we’ll have to start cultivating next year’s crop by pruning in the cold season, and being careful about pest and fungus control before the first bud appears next spring. But one thing is always true. The amount and quality of fruit the tree bears is always a reflection of the attention given in the pre-season.
So how about you? Are you caring for your ‘tree’ so that you can continue to see a bountiful harvest of righteousness?