The "fruit tree" illustrates the life of the believer in Christ. Each of the major sections of the tree has metaphorical significance, in that we can associate them with aspects of the believer’s life.

We know the roots are the starting point for considering the tree model. Consider an early stanza of Joyce Kilmer’s poem “Trees,” where a tree is personified as a baby “whose hungry mouth is prest / Against the earth's sweet flowing breast.” The comparison of roots to a mouth logical because they are the respective access points for the nourishment of a tree and a child. And so, as the source of water and nutrients that the tree needs is the soil into which its roots dig deeply, the believer’s source of nutrition is Christ Himself. We are rooted and grounded in Christ [Col. 2:7]—more precisely, established in saving knowledge of Him and in experience of His love and grace—and with that connection firmly made, Christ can transmit to us the “nutrition” we need to grow spiritually. Godly convictions, attitudes and standards are the “water” and “nutrients” our root system then absorbs.

The next section of the tree to consider is the trunk. Like the stem of any plant, it is a conduit for the nutrients and water to reach the outer extremities of the tree. The believer’s constancy and submission serve as the “trunk” of his life. Stability—evidenced by, among other things, faithful attendance to bible study and worship services—and obedience—evidenced by, among other things, the personal application of the principles being taught—jointly carry the desired convictions, attitudes and standards to the place where they facilitate fruit-bearing.

The final section of the tree is the fruit. Fruit is the evidence of maturity in a fruit tree. Water and nutrients finish their perambulation through the tree by coagulating at the limb-tips, where fruit buds and then ripens. In our Christian walk, the result we are looking for is manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit [Gal. 5:22,23]. This fruit will develop organically as we “metabolize” the convictions, attitudes and standards that have traveled through the trunk of our constancy in service and submission to teaching.

As a final thought, we should remember that our Christian lives have been designed by God to be fruitful. The processes of our spiritual development are fairly automatic if we do not hinder matters. We need to be reminded how new fruit trees in Israel were allowed three seasons of maturation before their fruit was be considered edible… and that fourth year’s harvest was a first-fruits offering to the Lord [Lev. 19:23,24]. God was patient, but eventually He expected good fruit from the trees. We see how, when the fig tree was supposed to bear fruit, Jesus in fact cursed it because there were only leaves on it [Mat. 21:19]. God expects us to grow and develop in this way. At some point He will look for fruitfulness in our lives.

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