2 Peter 1:8-9
For if these things be in you, and abound…
Among the most beautiful emblems of the Christian life in Scripture are those employed to shadow forth its fruitfulness. The choicest and noblest trees, the majesty and gracefulness of whose form delight our eye, or whose fruits regale our taste, are the Divinely chosen types of saved and sanctified men.
I. THE SUPREME IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIAN FRUITFULNESS. It was not that your leaves might idly wave in the sun, be fanned with the pleasant breath and sprinkled with the refreshing dews of heaven, that you were taken from the wild forest of nature and planted in the garden of God; but that you might reward the husbandman's care with abundance of the fruits of righteousness. And, if this result is not realised, you may read His deep sorrow and anger in the words pronounced over Israel (Isaiah 5:6). Fearful is the doom of barrenness (Hebrews 6:7-9).
II. FRUITFULNESS — IN WHAT IT CONSISTS. It is in a man's works and words and influence that, according to the view of the apostle, we are to find the fruits of the Christian life. Do not tell us of feelings and experiences, of qualities and graces, of which you say you are conscious; unless these inward impulses and affections make your life fertile in holy and loving purposes and performances. It is by what a man does that it becomes known what he is. The fruit proceeds from the tree, but is distinct from it. It is elaborated by the tree from the juices that circulate through root and stem and branch. The air, and light, and moisture, and nutritious elements of the soil contribute the materials; but the tree, out of these, by the power of its wondrous life, forms a product altogether new. And so, like the bounteous fruit-tree, every man who rightly fills his place in God's vineyard is not a consumer only but a producer. The world is the better for him. What has been taken into his own soul from above and from around — the doctrine of God's Word — the influences of God's Spirit — the lessons of nature and Providence — mingles with his being, and is changed and elaborated into holy thoughts, which may refresh thousands of hearts — into precious words of truth and power to become the germs of life in others, and into deeds of holiness and love.
III. THE DEGREE IN WHICH FRUITFULNESS IS ATTAINABLE. "Barren and unfruitful" — are not two terms to express the same idea. A fallow field, which yields nothing for the reaper's sickle, is "barren" in the sense here meant. A field which rewards the husbandman's toil with only a scanty crop would be appropriately designated "unfruitful." He is far from exhibiting the perfection of the Divine life, who, like the bleak patch beside the lonely cottage on the side of some stony bill, produces but a poor and precarious harvest, although he has made a great and happy transition from the desert barrenness of an unregenerate state. Maturity in grace, with its rich and mellow clusters, is a spectacle as lovely as it is rare. Where it does exist, it is often hidden from the view in many a humble home, in many a sequestered path. It is by our bearing "much "fruit, our Saviour tells us, that His Father is glorified in us. It is His continual aim that the fruitful branch may become more fruitful still.
IV. THE PRODUCTIVE ENERGIES OF THE LIFE OF FAITH. To be fruitful, all the functions of a tree must be in a healthy, vigorous state, its roots drawing nutriment from beneath, its leaves drinking in the dew and sunshine, the sap stirring through trunk and branch and leaf. If all its activities are in full and healthy play, its energies will not be wasted in excessive growths of foliage and useless sprays, but it will in its season bring forth fruit. What qualities must our souls possess in order to secure fruitfulness? They are virtue, knowledge, self-restraint, patience, godliness, brotherliness, charity. They impart to the soul a stamina and vigour, which not only preserve its life in the drought of summer and amid the icy winds of winter, but load the boughs with fruit.
(W. Wilson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.