Before fruit is ever visible, a seed had to be planted, and it needs nutrients, water and the Son to grow. And the roots bust forth from the seed,  and they spend their life tearing through the soil,  breaking it apart and devouring the decomposing soil. The death and decay in the soil mixes with water to feed the plant through its roots below the surface,  so that the tree can grow above the surface.

And isn’t it the same with spiritual growth? We start out as decaying flesh. Physical bodies of chemical elements – dust that will return to dust. And a seed is planted – of gospel truth, of awareness of God, of realization of something greater than self. And we either desire to remain dead and decaying and playing in the mud with the worms, or we draw near to the life giving water and light of the Lord.

A man of flesh is nothing but a worm, who consumes diet and death and decay as he wiggles through the mud and leaves behind a trail of decay where he has been. But a fruit bearing tree produces something noticeably different than just diet and death and decay.

A fruit bearing tree grows up towards the Son stretching and racing it’s branches to the sky, longing to break free from the surface and grow closer to the life giving sky that sends the Son and the Living Waters. The living waters bring both the plant and the worm to the surface, but while a worm hides from the light of the Son when it appears as He will dry it up and be destroyed, a fruit bearing tree runs toward the light because it is the only source of life.

I wonder how many are worms who occasionally come to hear the Word of God and who bathe in the Living Waters, but who run from the trials and call of discipleship set forth by the Son. I do not say this to discourage those who are in faith and struggling through the valleys, I say it as encouragement.

You see, He promises that if you truly surrender to Him and accept Him as first in your life, if you seek and knock,  He will answer. So if you want to be a fruit bearing tree instead of a worm, He is available to you.

The question is what are you truly choosing to be in your heart? We can fool ourselves and say our loud that we want to be a fruit bearing tree a thousand times, but if we love the mud and run from the trials and flee from the opportunities of a life of meaningful and active discipleship – to consume and produce the same kinds of things the world produces daily, we should be aware of who we are.

But before we go judging each other, remember that even a great tree that springs from a seed is growing underneath the surface and is amongst the soil with the worms until it breaks through the soil. And even a sprout that is showing growth towards the sky,  there are many more weeds than fruit bearing trees. And even the fruit bearing trees are pruned regularly by the master so that more fruit can grow. So it isn’t our job to size up others in comparison and judgement as to what they are or aren’t based on where we perceive their growth – but it is ours to encourage them to grow, sharing these Living Waters and this Son with the world around us.

Because as we drive the worms back under ground, they will process the death and decay in their playing in the mud, and even their devouring and producing death and decay serves to strengthen us through trials and growth. And as we let the Son shine upon the other plants, they will either grow tall as trees or be weeds scorched beneath the burning refinement of Truth so that they are the very death and decay that the worms feed upon.

Friends, we who are Redeemed are no longer worms,  we are a new creation. We are also not hypocrites pretending to be trees while we are really amongst the weeds and the thorns.

And it comes down to this – are we following Christ today? Truly following,  running from sin and running to Him, wanting to be free from the mud as we reach high to the Son, seeking to grow closer and closer, faithfully stretching towards Him each day? Learning at His feet and growing and maturing spiritually? Bearing fruit in trials and nourishing others with our fruit and healing them with our leaves?

Or are we more satisfied not growing?

We must examine ourselves for growth and for fruit. If we don’t see visible fruit in our lives,  we should ask ourselves –

Is this a season and a trial and the fruit is about to come when spring breaks at the end of this faithful winter of relying upon God?

Are my branches empty because the Lord has pruned them so that I can step out in faith into another challenge to test and prove my faith and His faithfulness?

Or do I have no fruit because I am dead?

Being alive in Christ is not about remaining a worm or a weed and taking confidence because we once called ourselves a seed. Putting a new name on something isn’t enough. I can call a worm a tree all day long,  but if it never leaves the soil,  if it never grows,  if it never bears fruit – how sad of a life for the tree that could have been,  or how foolish for the worm that thought himself a tree.

Know thyself.
Prove thyself.

Live out this race,  running it to the finish.