Not A Significant Amount?

When I was studying organ, my instructor was asking me to put in more expression, more contrast between soft and loud. I was trying very hard to do it, very precisely, when he stopped me. His comment?

“Not a significant amount.”

I was trying so hard, but he couldn’t “hear” the difference. The amount of variation was too small. So much wasted effort.

The phrase stayed with me. “Not a significant amount.” It applies to many areas of our lives.

If it is dinner, a crumb isn’t enough.
If it is shopping, a penny isn’t enough.
If it is water for the laundry, a drop isn’t enough.
If it is gasoline in the car, a teacup isn’t enough.
If it is water on the garden, a sprinkle isn’t enough.
If it is an apple orchard, an apple here and there isn’t enough.

Whatever it is, the quantity has to be ENOUGH to be significant, or there is no benefit. Just compare this statement with Paul’s “always abounding in the work of the Lord.” A GREAT difference! 

Jesus compared his disciples to fruit-bearing trees. First, he is concerned about the QUALITY of the fruit. He wants the very best quality.

What did He say in His first sermon about bearing quality fruit?

Matt. 7:18-2018A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Notice that bearing “good” fruit is a requirement for survival.

Matthew 7:19: 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

What did Jesus say about the quantity of the fruit He is looking for? Read John 15:8,

8By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

We are His disciples by bearing MUCH fruit.

In the little book of Hosea is an account of people who were short on goodness. The prophet used them to represent people with whom He was working. The prophet said they had some goodness, but it was not a significant quantity— because their goodness didn’t last.

Let us read it. The metaphor the prophet uses is that of morning dew or mist.

Hosea 6:4 4“O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? For your faithfulness is as a morning cloud, And as the early dew it goes away.

If you ever lived by a river, you saw the morning cloud. We would see fog – a mist often just above the river early in the morning. By mid morning it was gone. Dew on the grass is the same: a little sun, and how quickly it disappears. Not a significant amount of goodness—and surely not acceptable to God!

So their goodness, their virtue, their uprightness was quickly gone, as quick as the morning mist!

Isaiah spoke of a similar situation. It is a picture of a people short on goodness at a time of accountability. First is the rejoicing of the righteous.

Isaiah 24:14, 1614They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing For the majesty of the Lord, they shall cry aloud from the sea. 16From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous.

Then the regret of those short on goodness, not a significant amount..

But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me!

They had had opportunity, but had not used it. We don’t want to be there, short on goodness when it is too late!

It is the time when the Lord of hosts is reigning.

Isaiah 24:23 23…When the Lord of hosts shall reign In mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, And before his ancients gloriously.

Jesus’ parable of the sower addresses the same problem: not enough good fruit. The main problem was some competing interest that hindered the growth of the fruit. It mentions it first about the seed that falls by the wayside. 

Luke 8:5 5“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it.

Not much fruit could grow along the footpath.

How about the seed that fell on a rock? Similar problem.

Luke 8:6 6Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture.

What about the seed that fell among thorns? Jesus interpreted the reason here:

Luke 8:14 14Now the [seed] that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.

No chance to get a significant quantity of fruit among all those competing interests. But finally there was GOOD ground with plenty of space to grow a good quantity of good fruit.

Luke 8:15 15But the [seed] that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

What can we do to have our fruit “more and more”? Paul said it to the Philippians, chapter 1 verses 9-11,

9And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Notice those encouraging tones: love that abounds “more and more in knowledge and all discernment.” Life that is “filled with the fruits of righteousness…to the glory and praise of God.”

He wrote almost the same to the Colossians:

Colossians 1:9–10 9For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Let’s get one more thought from Jesus about the fruit-bearing trees. If we are fruit trees, that is what we do: BEAR FRUIT! All day, every day.

Matthew 7:20 20Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

We are KNOWN by the FRUIT we bear. Our FRUIT is what we actually DO, how we LIVE, our attitude, our spirit. It is what we DO in real life:
How careful we are of our words,
that they are always respectful, truthful, and sincere;
How kind and grateful in our attitude,
How prayerful in our spirit,
How self-controlled when we might feel aggravated
How humble when we make a mistake
How patient with another’s slowness (or speed)

How patient with ourselves!
How willing to forgive when we are wronged
How quick to overlook a slight
How longsuffering with our stumbles (and others!)

The opportunities are endless! Everywhere we turn. They come and go all day long. We just have to be alert to see them.

Let’s SEE these opportunities and USE them to keep growing spiritually, keep producing more and more fruit. Then we will be ABOUNDING in good fruit, and then…

2 Peter 1:11 11… an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And we won’t be short on fruit!