Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing. (Ezekiel 47:12)
The context of this verse isn’t really about the fruit but about a little stream that flows from the temple outward to all the nations and which has grown into a huge river. It speaks about the grace of God that is now made accessible to all people. The promise that comes with it is that all who drink from this river will bear fruit abundantly.
“Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing!” Hallelujah! Isn’t that wonderful?
But let’s be clear on one fact – no tree bears fruit for its own consumption. When was the last time you saw a tree feeding off its own fruit? As far as my limited botany knowledge serves me, there has never been a tree whose fruit is its own source of food.
So too are God’s people who are called to be fruitful, not for our own pleasure but for the benefit and blessing of others. Those who seek to derive pleasure from their own fruitfulness are going about it backwards. The fruit of our spiritual growth serves to bless others and it is in this outward blessing that we derive our pleasure, our satisfaction, our meaning and purpose.
Indeed the fruit of our spirit is love, joy, peace, patient, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Of the nine attributes, eight are outward – relational. Only “joy” deals with our inward self and that comes through the fulfilment of the other eight.
“Father turn us from our conceited and self-indulgent ways. Turn us from selfish pursuits and personal pleasure. Help us instead to love others, do good and show compassion. Help us bear fruits that are given to others for their enjoyment and not left to rot on our branches so that through this we will know and experience the true Joy that is from You.”