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Fruit that did not last 


I had dinner recently with a couple who were saved and baptized in the last church I pastored. This couple has walked with Jesus for several years now and raised children who are following Christ. They are faithful in their local church and have intentionally ordered their lives as ambassadors for Jesus.  

I remember when they began attending the church and have been thrilled to watch God’s hand on their lives. In fact, our reason for having a meal together was to talk and pray about God’s call and how they can best use their time, talent and treasure to serve Jesus. 

That visit reminded me of the reference in the New Testament about “fruit that lasts.” Jesus said in John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”  

All Christian leaders want their Gospel-advancing efforts to result in fruit that lasts. We long to see people saved out of lostness and live a life surrendered to Christ.  

Pastor and Author Josh Smith in his book “The Titus Ten” summarizes the work of the Great Commission. “We can summarize the Great Commission with these words: lead people to trust and follow Jesus.” This is what we each desire for our ministries.   

Unfortunately, however, many who spend their days in Christian ministry have experienced fruit that did not last.  

There are people who have professed faith in Jesus, gave a believable testimony, followed in believers’ baptism and appeared to be faithful — at least for a while. But when the challenges of life came, they pulled away and did not continue in the faith in the way they had begun. These are among some of the greatest disappointments in my years of pastoral ministry. 

What do you do when the fruit does not last? Here are some suggestions: 

1. Lean into the relationship: We must approach those we love about their spiritual condition. It is possible we are dealing with someone who was never truly converted, or it could be that a genuine brother or sister in Christ is drifting and needs to be challenged to return to Jesus. Either way we need to lean into it.  

2. Pray for them and ask others to pray: Whether we are praying for a believer to repent or a lost person to be regenerated, we must pray. We must pray that those who are truly saved will be restored to a vital walk with God and those who are not yet saved will be converted. Your prayers make a difference.  

3. Know that the whole story has not been written: We are all a work in process. When Peter denied Christ three times, (John 18) it would have appeared that Peter was truly lost. Jesus, however, went to Peter and restored him.  

My prayer for our churches is that each one will be a thriving, disciple-making, congregation and that God will give us fruit that lasts.  

    About the Author

  • Todd Gray

    Todd Gray is the executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

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