Now we come to something very important. We should want to produce “good fruit” and store up treasure in heaven, but just doing good things is not enough. Going through the motions to do good things because they seem right, or because someone told us to do them, or to impress someone, or for any reason other than what God explained really does no good at all. And what did God say? That is another question someone asked Yeshua. He answered it this way:
But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment, And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40 NKJV)
Love, then, should be our motivation – love of God, and love of other people. The Apostle Paul said as much when he wrote, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Galatians 5:14 NKJV) But then we come to another question: What is love?
Every one of us requires correction now and then. This timely word from fellow Hebrew Roots blogger K. Gallagher at Grace in Torah serves as a reminder not only to Messianic believers, but to all who have a testimony of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) about the basics of our faith. There is no substitute for the fruit of the Spirit, which is the only genuine evidence and measure of our walk with Messiah.
When describing her experience with the Messi-antics movement at a recent women’s retreat, my new friend, Deborah F., used the most clever analogy to describe the people she encountered. She called some fruit loops, some fruit punch, and others fruit snacks. Therefore, I must give her credit for inspiring me with this post. Thanks Deborah, I’m very grateful that the Father saw fit for our journeys to cross paths and I look forward to a great friendship.
Fruit of the Spirit
There is no mystery that the followers of the God of Israel and His Messiah are supposed to produce godly fruit. After all, that is how we are told we will know one another… by their fruit. But there is some controversy as to what that fruit will look like. Regardless of your view, if you follow the God of Israel, we can all agree to…
Why do we follow God? When we get alone, away from people who expect us to be good disciples of Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ), and have a chance to be honest with ourselves, what is the real reason we proclaim our allegiance to Yeshua? Is it just for “galactic fire insurance” – that promise of eternal salvation (John 3:16)? Is it the promise of a rewarding life on this earth (Mark 10:29-31)? Is it in hope of escaping trouble and stress (John 14:27). Or is it truly to follow God whatever He requires, and whatever circumstances come about?
These questions fall into the category of “counting the cost”. Yeshua presented the concept in this way:
Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:25-33 NKJV, emphasis added)
If we are to take Yeshua at His word, then His expectations of us to produce “good fruit” means that somehow we are to store up treasures in heaven rather than on earth. But what does that mean? Obviously it means making God our priority in life, or at least starting by placing Him higher on our priority list. That’s what relationship with Him is all about. Yeshua can help us understand this. Once a young man came to ask Him about that very subject. He wanted to know how he could “inherit eternal life”. Here is what Yeshua told him:
Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:21-22 NKJV)
What kind of good fruit does Yeshua expect His followers to produce? The kind that produces lasting change for good. That’s what He meant when He said we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16).