Fruitfulness is the only sign of the Spirit that does not point the way forward in discernment. This particular sign comes later, letting us see with hindsight that we heard the call correctly and managed to stay on the path. When God asks something of us, it is for a purpose and will bring forth fruit in the fullness of time. When we see good results spring forth as we act on our discernment, it is an indication that we got the message right.
However, it is important to realize that we ourselves do not necessarily get to see the fruits. You may impact the life of another person in profound ways, but in some cases you may never know anything about it. Conceivably, you may not even know the person. In other cases, it can take years and years for fruit to appear. Consider the artist Vincent Van Gogh, who died in poverty, unappreciated as an artist. It was only after his death that his impact on the world of art grew immense and the value of his paintings skyrocketed. Or what about Abraham Lincoln? He died having no inkling of the extent to which he influenced history. There is no way he could have comprehended the magnitude of his legacy. If we cultivate a habit of discernment and try to stay in a close relationship with God, our lives will be fruitful whether or not we get to see the results.
As the waters of the Spirit within us converge, they turn into springs that release the life-giving power of God into the world, to refresh and renew all creation.
– Farnham and Grayson, Keeping in Tune with God, p. 42
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