From the time that fruit-producing crops are planted, farmers look forward to the harvest. Their desire is to prepare an environment that is ideal for optimum fruit production. This refers to the size, quality, and quantity of the harvest. Honestly, the best farmers do everything they can on earth to prepare the growing area and then look to God in heaven for His blessing on their crops. Our Divine Farmer planted each of us in the environment that is most beneficial to produce fruit. Jesus explains this in John 15. "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." (Verses 1 and 2)
Remember when the 12 men, one from each tribe of the children of Israel, were sent into the Promised Land? They were to explore Canaan to determine the kind of land that the people lived in. They were to investigate the type of soil that was there--whether fertile or poor. Their final instruction from Moses was this: "Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land." (Numbers 13:20) Chapter 13 of Numbers describes what the explorers discovered. "When they reached the Valley of Eshkol (meaning cluster), they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs." (Verse 23) Can you imagine the size and quality of the fruit?
What is the Lord looking for from us? He wants a fruitful harvest. Let's look at our position in relationship to Father God and Jesus. Go back to John 15 and see that Jesus is the vine and Father is the vinedresser or tender of the grape vines. We are branches. Grapevine branches are tied to trellises or propped up with sticks in the natural world. The vine branches need a maximum amount of sunshine and good air circulation to produce the maximum amount of fruit. Like the branches on the vine, Jesus props us up when we are having difficulties and sets us in a place where we can take in the maximum amount of Holy Spirit.
What is the fruit that God is looking for and where does it grow? The Lord's fruit grows in our character, and it consists of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22) Notice the first fruit on the list. This is key! Without love we are nothing! (1 Corinthians 13:2) As Jesus was talking to His disciples He said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34-35) Notice that the grapes come in a cluster. Isaiah 65:8 has something to say about this: "As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes and people say, 'Don't destroy it; there is still a blessing in it'..." Wine is made from multiple clusters of grapes. We need to be connected to one another for successful ministry to the world. It is the new wine that is produced for the harvest of nations.
Here is a key to remember about the fruit harvest. Harvest happens every year. After one harvest there will be another. God looks for many seasons of fruitfulness in our lives. The fruit in our lives is ripened through our relationship with Jesus. As we become more like Him, our fruit gets larger and sweeter and juicier. God uses every season in our lives to increase our fruitfulness. I pray that we "may live a life worthy of the Lord and bless Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God." (Colossians 1:10)
Joan E. Mathias