The question may be rhetorical, but it is a question just the same. How do you answer? I have done a bit of harvesting in my life and I’ve never looked for apricots on a rose bush, nor cherries on an artichoke. How about you? What would you expect to harvest in a strawberry patch?
We can answer without really thinking when we’re talking about grapes and peaches, but you don’t still think He’s talking just about edible fruit do you? The Creator designed the fruit of the first creation to both nourish us and to give us insight into spiritual reality of the new creation. “Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?”
How would you answer the question as to the fruit of the new creation, the visible manifestation of the inner saint? You know of my consistent (indeed, nearly constant) reminders of the actual, fundamental, and instantaneous change effected by the Spirit in the innermost being of each person in Christ, from which transformation flows by His continued working. Transformation, like the metamorphosis of a butterfly, brings into tangible expression the God-implanted new nature. “Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?”
While nearly all of the letters in the New Testament begin with a greeting to the saints, often followed by some aspect of that truth of particular importance for those to whom the letter is addressed, none of the letters stop there. The letters to the saints of the first century, like mine to you, are not intended to simply make you feel good about yourself. The writers of the letters recognized, more than many of our contemporaries, the reality and importance of the heart-change effected by God in all who are His—a change which dramatically alters our very nature (for we are children of wrath no longer; we are now able to approach Him with a pure heart; though we were once dead, we now have been raised-up alive-after-death with Him). But the truth about who we are is not an end in itself; it is the basis for Spirit-enabled right-living. As Henri Nouwen expresses it, we are to be and to become. So, too, the inspired writers plead proper conduct as the appropriate outcome of the inner-change. With well-known words like the “Walk worthy, therefore” of Ephesians four and “I beseech you, therefore, beloved” of Romans twelve, they call us to live by the Spirit’s dynamic in accordance with who we are. “Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?”
God has chosen to reveal to us the reality of the (at-first invisible) inner-change so we will respond properly to His calls to right living. He seeks not primarily that we know we are really His children, but that in the knowing we will live as His children. We are able to live holy because The Holy One is our Father. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles.
May all who have ears to hear live accordingly!