Blog Series: Financial fruitfulness – 9 words
This has been a great summer for fruit! This past summer, dry and hot has been good to the fruit growers, producing a bumper harvest and low prices for good quality fruit! Love it!
A mentor of mine always said that the quality of a Christian’s life is not his education, gifting or talents; not even his Bible knowledge. It is the quality of the fruit of his life. Jesus talked about a good tree bringing good fruit and a bad tree bad fruit. “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.” (Matthew 7:16,17)
A fruit generally consists of three parts. The stem, the seeds and the fruit flesh.
The life from the tree flows through the stem, reproducing what is in the tree. So, if we are attached to the tree of life, which is Jesus himself, we bring forth fruit which corresponds to His life. The fleshy part of the fruit is good to eat, and sustains life, giving necessary nutrients to others. Then the fruit develops seeds which can be sown again to multiply the life of the tree.
I was thinking, what fruit am I bearing in my financial life? Managing money well, in accordance with what God wants, can be a struggle and tough; but it doesn’t need to be!
Being financially fruitful means to keep connected to the life of Christ, as the fruit is connected to the tree. It means to use our money for the good life, as we and others ‘enjoy’ our money as we would enjoy eating a juicy apple. Lastly, it means ‘sowing the seeds’ of our money, investing in others and in the Kingdom of God to multiply what we have been given.
The apostle Paul described nine characteristics of spiritual life which brings forth spiritual fruit, and this applies well to my money management.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)
Love means to use money to build up meaningful relationships. Joy is thanking God that he knows what I need and will provide all I need. Peace is learning to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. Patience means to be think twice before buying something and saving slowly to build up assets. Kindness is helping the poor and excellent in good deeds. Goodness is being morally upright and honest in all my financial dealings. Faithfulness is learning to use money in a way which honors God and his purposes for my finances. Gentleness is a humility and meekness which is not boastful or proud. Self-control is being disciplined in spending, saving and giving.
When fruit with these characteristics, grown by the Spirit in us, is eaten – it tastes really good! Such fruit contains seeds which will be multiplied to grow again.
A 'Jesus Tree' and a 'Me Tree'
What really excites me is that fruit does not have to sweat or work hard at all these things. All fruit needs to do is remained attached to the right tree, accept the dynamic life which is coming out of the tree and allow itself to grow and be enjoyed. The kind of fruit which comes out of a ‘Jesus Tree’ will almost automatically bear all these nine characteristics.
In contrast to this, fruit coming out of a ‘Me Tree’ will not taste nice at all. Paul describes this also. “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)
Meditate on how money, used selfishly, is involved in these aspects of financial fruitfulness.
Fr the next 9 weeks, we will look at how the life of Christ can work out His fruitfulness in your (financial-) life! Enjoy the fruit!