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first harvestMonday was an amazing day.  We picked the first of our expected harvest from the vegetable garden.

I carried it into the house…the grands helped us pick it.  I laid it on the counter to look at.  The color, so bright…and so appetizing.  We couldn’t wait to eat it.  So perfect.  No worm holes and rotten spots were anywhere in sight…it couldn’t have been more perfect!

Yes, that is the photo right there!  Our one cherry tomato!  That’s all that is ready to harvest.  Yes, there are many green ones that are almost ready…but this is the only one that is red right now.  There is also a cucumber that is nearly ready to pick too…but it isn’t ready yet!

I can look on the bushes and vines and see that in the coming weeks, there will be a good harvest.  I will have vegetables ripening and will have fresh food to eat.  It’s exciting to anticipate.  More vegetables are ripening along with a continued supply of fresh herbs.  What could be better?

What about spiritual fruit?

Then I thought about the fruit I see in my life and in the lives of others around me.

How often do I look at fruit and instead of being thrilled with the fruit that is finally ripe, I complain about the fact that there isn’t enough of it…even when I can see signs that more is coming.  (I do this mostly with myself!)  It is so easy to look around and compare my fruit, either it is its quantity or quality, to that of another…or compare the fruit of one person to that of another.  This is a very harmful habit.  It is of no benefit to anyone, least of all myself.

Think of the joy a farmer has when his fruit/vegetable is ready to harvest.  It is the culmination of a season of work.  This is where he will get repaid for all his work.  This is the outcome of months of careful watering, weeding and maybe even fertilizing…of watching over his plants for signs of disease or pests that are eating them.  This is the result of all that work.  It is the beginning of the final reward.

When it comes to bearing fruit, whether it is fruit of the Spirit…something for which we can’t take any credit!  Or whether it is the fruit of serving and the use of spiritual gifts…something else we can’t really take personal credit for.  We can look at the fruit and be encouraged with the work GOD is doing in our lives as well as through our lives.

Comparison kills joy.

Comparison kills joy and hope.  It kills your vision for service.  It kills your joy in the mess and muck of ministry.  We are to obey and do what GOD asks of us…we fail often enough just in this arena.  But it is not beneficial to compare fruit.  For one thing, we don’t always know which fruit is true fruit.  For another, when we can’t always see the fruit, we can’t accurately compare fruit.  That is GOD’s job.

When you see fruit in others, you can encourage them as you see it.  Do you see a repentant spirit evidenced?  Mention it by way of what you see GOD doing in that person’s life.  Do you see an encourager developing?  Encourage it as you see it growing.  The same goes for those with gifts of helping or giving or teaching.

As we encourage those who are doing what GOD has equipped them to do, we will see them putting into practice what they are able to do…and the Body of Christ will be doing the work of ministry.  Fruit will be growing and the harvest will be coming in.  That is always a good thing!