Imagine you are walking through a beautiful grove of fruit trees. As you stroll down the lane, you wonder what kind of fruit trees they are. They’re beautiful!
What’s the easiest way for you to identify what kind of trees you are viewing? From the leaves? The bark? The branches? Well, unless you’ve actually studied trees before, chances are these things wouldn’t help you determine the kind of tree you are looking at. No, the easiest way for you to solve the puzzle is to examine the fruit. The leaves might appear to be very similar to other leaves—same with the bark and the branches. But the fruit is a dead giveaway. You can’t fake fruit. The fruit you can see on the outside will always be the true indicator of what’s on the inside.
What’s true of trees is also true of people. You might be able to put on an act and fool a lot of people a lot of the time. But you will be KNOWN by the fruit of your life. When the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians, he said this: Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon] (Philippians 4:5 The Amplified Bible).
When you are self-sacrificing, people will know it. On the other hand, when you are always on your own mind…the center of your world…selfish and self-centered, people will know that too. It works every time—people can always determine your character by looking at the fruit of your life.
In the verse above, Paul was telling the church at Philippi that we should bear good fruit because that’s what we are going to be known for. In my own words, that verse says that you should let ALL men see your good fruit—everyone you come into contact with, every single day, in every situation, everywhere you go, all the time, at work, at home, on the highway driving in traffic, in the grocery store standing in line… What this verse says to me in short is simply this: Jesus is coming soon, so get your act together!
How are you known? What kind of fruit do others see in your life? When the fruit you are known by is selfishness, you are trapped in a world where YOU are always on your mind. Everything and everyone revolves around YOU. But, of course, you know that’s not really the case, so you are constantly set up for disappointment and failure. I believe that being selfish and self-centered is the worst kind of prison that you can live in.
But you can experience real freedom when you are able to get yourself off your mind. When you can once and for all truly die to self and begin to live for others, serve others, give to others, and care for others, you can walk out of this prison and begin to live freely.
Here’s another verse from Paul. This one was written to the Corinthians: And He died for all, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for Him Who died and was raised again for their sake (2 Corinthians 5:15).
Certainly, Jesus died so that we might live. His death on the cross affords us eternal life. However, according to this verse, that’s not the only reason He died. He died so that we might no longer have to live for ourselves. His death gave us someone else to live for…HIM!
The greatest miracle God does in your life is not what He does for you—it’s what He does in you! One of the most exciting things God does is transform us from being selfish, self-centered, obnoxious, manipulative, controlling, angry, bitter, resentful, and hard to get along with, and He causes us to develop and grow new fruit—fruit like love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.
What kind of fruit is on your tree? Is your life bearing the bad fruit of selfishness? Remember, no matter what kind of leaves or branches or bark you have, you are known by your fruit. Jesus died so you could be free from selfishness. You no longer have to be “always on your mind!”
Author/teacher Joyce Meyer has been helping people overcome life’s problems through biblical keys to practical Christian living since 1976. Her radio and television programs are broadcast throughout the United States and much of the world. For additional information, you may contact Joyce Meyer Ministries at P.O. Box 655, Fenton, Missouri 63026 or visit www.joycemeyer.org.