He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:3)
The month of Shevat, the 11th month on the Jewish cycle of months, begins the turn from winter to spring in Israel. This is the time of year when the earliest blooms appear on some trees. The fifteenth day of this month is called Tu b'Shevat and is celebrated as the New Year for trees. It is a day to give thanks for the abundance that the Lord has provided for the Land of Israel. Deuteronomy 8 speaks of the good land that was promised to the children of Israel and mentions some of the fruit that grows there. Because of the Lord's provision of abundance, the day of Tu b'Shevat is commemorated now by eating fruit that is from the Land of Israel.
There is a great fundamental, spiritual truth that may be derived from the observance of these trees' natural behavior: the importance of bearing fruit. If we are to be of use to the Father's kingdom, then we must also bear fruit. But our fruit has to be the fruit of our deeds. We should examine how we are relating to our spouse, our children, our parents, and extended family. Do we love them as we should? How about when we are in our fellowships, our workplaces, our towns? Are we being a light, shining God's truth by our actions? Are we putting others ahead of ourselves? Are we a loving people? We need to be! We need to concern ourselves with the eternal souls of those around us. If by our actions of selflessness we bring honor to God and that we show people the love of Messiah, thus drawing them closer to the kingdom, then we should immediately do so in all of our exchanges. We become like the one from Proverbs 11:30 that, "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise."
If we do not bear fruit of righteousness, then are we better than those who do not know the Lord? If we do not bear the fruit of loving deeds to those around us, we become like the trees that either do not bear good fruit or bear no fruit at all. Think about this, if we fail to be a light to those around us, we actually, as believers, become a darkness, obscuring the Father from them. If we do not bear righteous fruit, then we, instead of building the kingdom of God become one who tears it down. In the Gospel of Matthew Messiah speaks of the trees that do not bear fruit and their end (see Mt. 3:10; 7:16-20; and 21:19). This is not the way a healthy disciple of his should be characterized. We are to be known by our love. Rather, we should be known by our deeds of love. We should be known as the people that are self-sacrificing and as the ones that truly know how to treat people inside our homes, workplaces, and communities.
The great news about this is that as a follower of Messiah Yeshua, we are new creations. This is why we should be walking differently than the world walks. It is our nature to bear righteousness. Only when we forget to put down the old man (Romans 6:6) do we have difficulty.
What an incredible calling we have as disciples of the Master, to bear fruit for the kingdom! May you have many opportunities this new month of Shevat to build up the kingdom and to love in word and deed.
They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. (Psalm 92:14-15)