Question / Comment - What is bearing fruit for God? Is it solely bringing people to Jesus?
I have struggled with this for years...as an introvert. I was told that I need to BEAR FRUIT by counting each person I brought to Christ! Is this true? Need your help...
I'm sorry if I am rephrasing my statement because I thought "counting" was not the right word....I was told that each person I brought to Christ becomes "my fruit". Therefore, I must "bear fruits" by bringing more to Christ. But somehow, just like not being able to speak in tongues, those words made me feel like a low-class Christian.. With my personality, I have a hard time engaging in conversations therefore struggled with the idea that I am not bearing fruits for Christ and that makes me feel down. Looking for the real TRUTH!
Thanks for the question. If counting each person that you bring to Christ/God is the fruit that God looks for and counts for eternity then Jeremiah is going to be disappointed and even more depressed. He spent his life following what God asked him to do and never had one convert... none. And probably most Christians haven't brought many others to the Lord... yet they can still have fruit that lasts for eternity.
Some general thoughts on 'fruit'
I looked again at all the New Testament passages concerning 'fruit'. Jesus spoke of bearing fruit in various passages such as Matt 7:17-19, Matt 13:23, John 15:1-6 without defining what the fruit is. Moving on past the Gospels we see that bearing fruit is primarily concerned with character due to the presence of God in the life of a believer:
Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Eph 5:8-10 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (9) (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), (10) trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
And this inward change manifests itself through the life that we lead and the work that we do for Him (works He has prepared for us according to His plan):
Col 1:10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Eph 2:10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Gathering fruit for eternity
As I looked through all the various passages about fruit, there was only one that I can see which ties fruit directly with bringing people to Christ. I assume that the person/people that you heard were basing their thoughts on this:
Joh 4:34-38 Jesus *said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. (35) "Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. (36) "Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. (37) "For in this case the saying is true, 'One sows and another reaps.' (38) "I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor."
I like what the William MacDonald writes on this:
Verse 36 does not teach that a person earns life eternal through faithful reaping, but rather that the fruit of that work continues on into eternal life. In heaven, both the sower and the reaper will rejoice together. In natural life, the field must first be prepared for the seed, and then the seed must be sown in it. Later on, the grain is harvested. Thus it is in the spiritual life also. First of all, the message must be preached, then it must be watered with prayer. But when the harvest season comes, all who have had a part in the work rejoice together.
William MacDonald, Believers Bible Commentary
So you will notice that the sower and the reaper will rejoice in Heaven together. And we could add that with them will be person that purchased the seeds, the one who prepared the ground, the one who watered the seed & the gardener who made sure that the weeds didn't grow and throttle the plant... all along with the person saved! You see when a person comes to Christ, there is normally a whole lot of people that had a part to play in it right down through the years - even if they aren't the ones who finally 'reap' that harvest of the person's salvation. Many are not even seen though they are by God. Yet all will rejoice and be rewarded in heaven together. Our primary role here is as ambassadors for Christ, to help people be reconciled with God (2 Cor 5:18-21) and to make disciples (not just converts) of Christ (Matt 28:19). But there are many ways in which we can help in that.
Because of your introverted character maybe you struggle 'engaging in conversations' that lead to a person's salvation. But you could still be sowing seeds through a godly character, the fruit of the Spirit, that people see. That's where the saying comes in 'Preach Christ, always preach Christ, and if necessary, say something!' You can still be showing the love of Christ and helping others. You could still be watering seeds through prayer which is a huge part of anyone's salvation. We can still be giving to places that are in the frontline to get the Gospel out. A big part of my salvation came not from someone witnessing to me but through my sister buying me a Bible for my 18th birthday. At the time I thought that was the worst present I have ever got! But it turned out to be the best : ) That was planting a seed without saying anything which bore fruit.
Different fruit and crowns
It is also good to remember that in the natural world different trees produce different fruit and so it is in the spiritual. To use Paul's analogy in 1 Cor 12, in Christ's body we are not all a foot or a hand... and we are definitely not all a mouth! The Holy Spirit gives different people different gifts. There are specific people that are gifted for evangelism. They love it and are incredible at it. I can honestly say that I don't have that gift. I have not brought many to Christ. Yet we all should try to be faithful in what we believe God has given us and has called us to do. There are many spiritual gifts that are practical in all sorts of areas.
Rom 12:3-8 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (4) Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, (5) so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (6) We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. (7) If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; (8) if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Look at some of the spiritual gifts that Paul mentions in Rom 12... things like serving, encouraging, helping, giving... even showing mercy is listed as a gift. We will all have fruit that lasts for eternity if we faithfully use our gifts for His glory and follow what God puts on our heart to do whatever that is. Another way to look at this is that the New Testament speaks of different types of 'crowns' which represent our rewards in the life to come. Here is a quick list and you will notice that there are rewards for all types of activity (not just bringing someone to Christ as important as that is).
- Crown of Life - Perseverance under trials (James 1:12, Rev 2:10)
- Crown of Glory - Ministering faithfully to God's sheep. (1 Pet 5:4)
- Crown of Exaltation - Winning Souls to the Lord (1Thes 2:19)
- Incorruptible Crown - Running the race with self control (1 Cor 9:25)
- Crown of Righteousness - Loving His appearing (2 Tim 4:8)
The bottom line is that as we enjoy Jesus and abide in Him and His grace, we will bear fruit - Jesus said so (John 15:1-5). You are just a branch and no branch can produce fruit of any kind by 'trying harder'. But it happens normally as we abide in Him. And, like the gifts of the Spirit, that fruit will manifest itself in works that are according to the will of the Holy Spirit for each ones life. But when things become pressured and legal ("you must bear eternal fruit by converting people to Christ. How many have you done recently?!?") then this just brings guilt and condemnation... followed by more human effort... followed by more failure... followed by more guilt... (repeat cycle until utter disillusionment!)
But thank God that He knows you, He has plans for you, and He will enable you to do what He is placing on your heart. There is no condemnation for those in Christ (Rom 8:1) and guilt isn't from God. Nor are there any 2nd class citizens in Christ. Legalism in any form never brings lasting fruit. The fact is, as Jesus said, that many who are first here will be last there, and many that are last will be first. Just try to be faithful. Sow seeds where you can. Be honest with God about any fears or struggles you have, thanking Him that He has not given you a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind (1 Tim 1:7). At the end of the day we need Him for whatever He places on our heart and we walk and stand in His grace.
Relax and enjoy your relationship with Jesus. Fruit comes from abiding in Him : )