My family and I have been trying to get fruit trees started in our yard. This year, we had some wonderful blossoms on the trees and began watching with wonder as the apricots, plums, and peaches began to form. Those little green fruits were starting to take form and already our mouths were watering. Then, they dropped off.
My wife looked into the mystery and the company we got the trees from said many people experienced the same situation this year. They issued a statement on the topic, entitled “If the fruit drops, so does your heart.” The principles of this article struck home with me in a spiritual way, too. Too often, our spiritual fruit, which are new souls we have one to the Lord, will drop off too. When that happens, my heart drops even more than from seeing green peaches on the lawn.
Toxic chemicals make fruit drop off
I cringe if a bitter person gets around a new soul I am working to win to the Lord. Angry, hateful people who have a gripe against God or His people will do more to destroy new Christians than anything. Jesus told the parable about the wayward son who came back but his older brother was bitter and resentful against him. Sometimes people come into a church and someone there harbors feelings against them from the past. That unhappy believer could destroy that fruit before it ripe.
The father of the wayward son ran to meet him. He did not wait until the older brother got ahold of him. I think he ran to meet him so he could show acceptance and forgiveness before that revengeful person got to the young man. You and I should be like that father and run to welcome newcomers to the faith and those who are returning to the Lord, before some bitter believer does.
Apostle Paul wrote his letter to Philemon for this very reason. Philemon was a businessman who knew the Lord and had a worker named Onesimus who had done him wrong. Once Onesimus came to the Lord, Paul was concerned that the older brother, Philemon, would destroy this young fruit. Paul wrote to Philemon for the same reason the father ran to the wayward son—to prevent damage to the young fruit.
Lack of proper pollinators can make fruit fail
If you have the only apple tree in a ten mile radius, it will not bear much fruit. Orchards produce much fruit because the closeness of fruit bearers allows for pollination from the bees and the wind. A church with multiple soul winners will see more new converts remain than a church with only one who is zealous to reach the lost. A forest of maples will not help an apple tree blossom. The body of believers must develop a culture of reaching the lost.
By looking only for the sweetness in the world around them, honeybees make the world fruitful. Some people in the church will never stand on a street corner passing out tracts or pray with people in the mall, but they can help retain newcomers just by a smile, an encouraging word, and meaningful conversation.
Apricot trees do not help apple trees to set fruit. We need to immerse newcomers into the culture of the Holy and not try to cross-pollinate them. Too many hybrid Christians develop because we try to be ecumenical (blend with all belief systems) instead of taking a strong stand for truth. To the best of my ability, I seek to lead new believers in the way of truth and surround them with those of like precious place. There is a place for interfaith activities, but I think exposure to too much variety can stunt a new believer.
Too much fruit all at once will not be healthy
If a tree sets too much fruit all at once, it will not be able to bring it all to maturity. Rather than an abundance of scrawny fruit, the tree would do better to focus on developing a few healthy ones. Some zealous people make us feel like we have to go wide, scrambling to get all the people in the kingdom that we can. Unfortunately, such mass marketing often backlashes with those believers falling off the tree because no one taught them and helped them grow in the Lord.
You do not have to win everyone at your workplace today. Pray and ask God to help you find those who are seeking Him. Work within your social group and personal skills. You do not have to learn Cantonese to win the lost. Just talk to the person over your back fence. You will be more productive for God by working with two or three people rather than trying to win twenty-five at the same time.
Young trees often get too excited about setting fruit. When it begins to ripen, the weight will be too much for the young branches and will rip them right off the tree trunk. More than just damage the fruit, it hurts the tree and sets it back from further productivity. People who go overboard with soul winning often stunt their own growth and burn themselves out. Do not try to operate outside of what God has called you to be. Most people are not called to be crusade evangelists. We all are called to set fruit that remains (John 15:16).
Setting to fruit too early causes damage
This spring, we had to pull off perfect little pears from a tree we planted last year. The kids were upset with me, but that tree would hurt itself if it tried to develop that fruit. Young trees do not have enough food reserves to set fruit and survive the winter. Those who are new to the faith should not be left to set fruit alone.
New believers are the most likely to witness to their friends and co-workers. However, you should not leave the newbie alone to teach and answer questions to those who are seeking God. New converts need to get their roots down deep before they start trying to “feed” others the truths of God. If they give out too much at the beginning, they will stunt their own growth.
Reaching out to others will be a very rewarding experience for a new believer if an experienced one shares the load of developing that fruit with them.
Weather makes some drops unavoidable
You will lose some newbies no matter what you do. Jesus warned that some crop failure is unavoidable and there is not much you can do about it (Matthew 13). You should not beat yourself up every time someone walks away from the faith because we are all free to choose. You cannot do it right enough for the wrong person or wrong enough for the right person (within reason).
It helps to know that we are not wholly responsible for the faith of others. We are responsible to speak our faith and live Christ before others. We must pray for others and teach them.
Source of fruit information: “Shedding Light on Fruit Drop” Sarah, 05/07/2012, growingwithstarkbros.com