Fruitful (1,113)

April 11th, 2011

Climbing into my car after the second service at the FirstUnitedMethodistChurch in Hutchinson, Kansas, I felt good.

I had met some of the more delightful people that the American landscape has to offer—more or less what we refer to as the “salt of the earth,” and had the pleasure of adding a little bit of my “pepper” to their table spread.

But after a few minutes passed I began to wonder if I had done enough, said enough, said too much or failed to communicate clearly the precious truths that need to be shared in this hour of bewilderment. Truthfully, I really don’t think there’s anything of significance to be achieved in life by being self-satisfied.

I always want to know if I can be more fruitful.

For consider this: “Be fruitful” is the first thing that God ever spoke to human beings after he dusted them off and blew some spirit their way. Of course, we have translated that in our own minds as referring only to sexual pleasure which grants us the by-product of offspring. But I do think God had more in mind than that. After all, the thing that devastates human beings? Lack of productivity. It makes the journey seem more like a dirge than a dance.

Yet—what does it mean to be fruitful? And does it mean something different in Hutchinson, Kansas, than it does in New York City? To get the answer to that all I have to do is walk into my local grocery store and stroll through the produce. Bananas aren’t grapefruit; oranges aren’t apples, and pineapple has very little to do with a tomato. All fruit. All born of different circumstances. All uniquely engendered with physical liabilities and blessings. All flavored differently.

Those folks in Kansas may need a very different watering to promote their fruitfulness than the folks in New York City. Of course, there are similarities. But sensitivity to the differences is what makes for ministry instead of just preaching.

Still, at the end of the day—(or maybe even before then—let’s say about three o’clock in the afternoon) some universal seeds need to crop up in every person who wants to be fruitful:

1. I’m enjoying myself or doing the best impersonation I can come up with. Misery does not love company unless you’re talking about a parcel of complainers. The joy of the Lord is not only my strength—it is the fragrance I send off to my fellow-humans, letting them know that my attitude doesn’t stink.

2. I know what I’m doing – so much so that I’m willing to appear ignorant in order to learn more. There is a certain amount of intelligence necessary to get from the first grade to the second grade. One sure thing in life is that people who feel they don’t need to acquire greater knowledge always end up one idea short of success.

3. Laughter is not for a comedy club, but rather, the fuel that keeps us from running out of gas. I become greatly amused with people who think that humor is an interesting addition to a life that is normally surrounded by somber maturity. I know I’m in the presence of truly excellent individuals when everything is done with a sense of good cheer. Many a giggle has kept me from a gaggle of goofs. And a chuckle is much better than a word of criticism.

4. And finally, when you’ve done what is expected of you, call yourself an unprofitable servant. I’m not talking about being self-critical to the point of forbidding yourself the joy of celebration—I’m just saying that celebration can be an ongoing party as long as we’re moving forward instead of looking for a chair to turn into a throne to make ourselves “king of the world.” When you develop the great happiness of improvement, you reach a point where no man needs to teach you anymore. The earth itself becomes your schoolmarm.

So the first words that God spoke still have great impact today: Be fruitful.

Remember this—Jesus came across a really nice tree with beautiful leaves—but it had no fruit. It wasn’t the season. He cursed it anyway. Gives you pause for thought, doesn’t it? Because if you’re going to take the time to branch out, you’d better sprout a tasty treat.

Published in: on April 11, 2011 at 1:49 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Matt. 25:14-30 — just read parable of the Talents. I think this expresses the ‘fruitful’ of which you write. Just read this, along with comments, as part of my daily Lenten reading. Like the thoughts.


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