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A small apple orchard stood on the farm where I lived as a child. The trees thrived in their environment and produced several varieties of apples, although I can’t name them today. I still love to eat apples fresh from a tree.

My mother made apple pies, apple sauce, and apple butter. We ate the apples. Usually we had to cut out the bruises, worms, and scabs. Today I appreciate how much time my frugal mother spent doing that so she could make treats for our family. My father planted a large garden and kept a few animals. At Thanksgiving dinner my mother proudly pointed out that almost all our food came from the farm. As a family, we reaped the fruit of our labor as a blessing from God of the harvest.

Fruit-bearing is a common image in Scripture. In the agrarian Jewish culture, people understood references to animals and crops. Fruit in my life as a Christian is the result of the Holy Spirit working in me. Fruit-bearing has two purposes: to glorify God and to identify me as Jesus’ disciple.

Fruit-bearing, or the good acts I perform, is not my ticket to heaven. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden, they chose to disobey God’s direct command and introduced sin into the human race. Now all people are born sinners.

Like a worm in an apple, sin corrupts us. God is holy and pure. Nothing I do is good enough to allow me into God’s presence. Salvation is God’s gift of mercy and grace. When I acknowledged my sin, believed that Jesus, God’s sinless Son, died and rose again for me, and received Him as my Lord and Savior, I was forgiven and now have eternal life with God. I belong to Him as a member of His family.

The fruit produced by Christians are the good deeds which come from the heart and life of the person who believes God and trusts His Word. The fruit that identifies me as a follower of Jesus Christ is the product of salvation, not the cause of it.

My attitudes count, as well as a desire for others to be saved.

My words, thoughts, and actions are not always what they should be. My words are sometimes thoughtless or unkind. Often I would be ashamed to have any one know what I’m thinking. And there are times when I regret what I do or don’t do. These are like the bruises and scabs that must be cut out of the apples.  Owning up to my sins before God and persons I have offended brings healing and restores fellowship with my heavenly Father.

A farmer harvests the fruit of his labor. God the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit in my life.