Question: "What does it mean to be a fruitful Christian?"
Answer: The Bible often uses the metaphor of fruit to describe the produce of our lives. Fruit can be either good or bad (Matthew 7:18; Luke 6:43). Romans 7:5 says, “For when we were in the realm of the flesh . . . we bore fruit for death.” A fruitful Christian will produce better results: “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life” (Proverbs 11:30).
Fruit is the direct result of whatever controls our hearts (Matthew 15:19). The fruit of a life not surrendered to Jesus includes “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage,” and many more evil acts (Galatians 5:19–20). In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit of God is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23).
God the Father is the gardener (John 15:1), and He desires us to be fruitful. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). As branches cling to the vine, we cling to Christ, drawing our very life from Him. The goal is “much fruit,” as Christ uses us to bring about blessed, celestial results in a broken, fallen world.
When we have committed ourselves to Christ and live to please Him, the natural result is behavioral choices that look like His. He was clear that true followers of Christ will be recognizable by their fruit: “Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:16–20).
There are many ways Christians can be fruitful. True fruitfulness begins in the heart with the fruit of the Spirit. That inner fruit affects outward actions; our words and our activities will glorify the Lord, and God’s will is accomplished. God’s desire is to transform us into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29) and make us as fruitful as He was. In our allegiance to Him, we want to be characterized by good works (Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:7; Colossians 1:10), humility (Ephesians 4:2; Titus 3:2), and forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13). We want to always be ready to “give an account for the hope that is within you” (1 Peter 3:15). We desire to be the “good soil” Jesus spoke of in the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:3–9. The result of spiritual fruitfulness is that God is glorified, we grow, and others come to know Christ—this is the ultimate fruitfulness for a child of God (Matthew 5:16; Acts 20:26–27; Mark 16:15).