Last summer we planted a garden. It was a strange garden. Initially, everything looked really good. We had squash plants that got massive and had lots of flowers (the actual squash grows from the flower).
We had never grown melons before, but we planted some cantaloupe and watermelons. They both grew extravagant vines as well. The watermelon vines took over the ground and then scaled the six foot high fence, completely covering it.
As we saw all this growth, we wondered, when will the melons develop? Why aren't there any squash growing? Eventually, fruit developed...kind of.We had baseball size cantaloupe and watermelons the size of kiwi. One got to the size of a small cantaloupe but stopped growing. By the end of the summer the squash flowers had wilted, the mini cantaloupe rotted, and I picked the small watermelon and cut it open. It was a sickly pinkish white in the middle. Un-edible.
People who saw our garden thought it looked great. Only those of us close to it knew it was all show and no harvest.
I hope this metaphor is not being lost on you.
As Christians, we need to grow, but it's easy to get lost in the development and forget what the real purpose is...producing fruit.
Years ago, I was looking for a graphic artist. A young man applied for the job and his resume presented him as a good candidate with many years of education in the field. As I talked with him I saw that he wasn't ready.
He'd say, "If you need [this or that] done I'd need to take a class. And, I haven't learned how to [do this] yet so I'd need some more education there." He had a lot of education but it wasn't getting him to the goal of getting a job.
My next interview was with a young woman with a fraction of his education but whose focus had been on learning what she needed to get a job. She got the job.
As Christians we can do a lot of "religious" activities. But is it just activity and no productivity? It may be time to take stock of what we're doing and if it's truly worthwhile.
If you are on a church board, teach Sunday School, read books about God, or do Bible studies can you see fruit from those activities? If you are growing in the right way two things should happen:
1. You look more like Christ. (You are being transformed to think and act like Jesus.)
2. Someone else is growing toward Christ (because you are influencing them).
This is fruit.
If you are just growing vines, get with God and figure out how you need to change focus. Put your energies into growing big, full, lasting fruit...kiwi-sized watermelons are just not cuttin' it.