Five years ago I noticed a splash of colour on my front lawn which consists of more moss than grass. On examination it was a flower I was unfamiliar with. I posted a couple of photos on Facebook and a friend suggested a type of orchid. Subsequently, I looked it up and found that it was a northern marsh orchid. By that time I had been living in the house for over a decade and had not seen it before. The following year another showed up in a different spot. A couple of years ago another appeared in a grassy part of my drive. But it did not flower last year though two new ones also appeared in the lawn. On examination I began to spot other orchids that had not come into flower, possibly because they were only in their first year. In total I counted 12 orchids. This year though spring was late there was a prolonged warm dry spell which brought the older more established orchids to develop earlier and begin to flower but a couple began to shrivel up before it rained again which brought most of the others on. However there was another dry spell so I began to water the orchids until it rained again. This year, apart from the two that only partially flowered, 12 flowered plus two more plants giving a total of sixteen. So these orchids are showing signs of fruitfulness.
However when it comes to spiritual fruitfulness is it so straightforward? For example, it is easy to look at a church that is growing in size as being fruitful. However, sometimes church growth may be down to Christians moving between churches rather new converts. Demographics rather than a move of God. Yet when we hear of a large and growing church our assumptions are that it is because of a spiritually fruitful ministry. But what of people in more difficult situations. What about Jeremiah? He found himself being disbelieved by almost everybody he preached to. On a superficial level it would seem he had a very unfruitful ministry if you judged it by the numbers of his followers which by the end of his ministry was none. The danger is that we judge the fruitfulness of others by our own enthusiasms, Charismatics looking for evidence of the gift of tongues and healings, and more traditional Evangelicals by the Biblical teaching. Likewise when we examine our own lives how fruitful are we? We may not be the best judge of our fruitfulness. We might look to something we consider big when, in fact, we may be at our most fruitful when we do small humble things well.
David Rose, 2018.