Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation:plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1.11-12.
As I read these verses this morning, the words “fruit with seed in it” struck me with a significance they had never held for me before. I recalled how, only two or three days ago, I had taken an orange from the fruit bowl, peeled it and bit into it, then complained, “Oh no, it’s full of pips!” – because, of course, these days pips are so unexpected. One of the “skills” of the world’s fruit producers is now to produce seedless oranges, seedless grapes and so on, so that we, the consumers, don’t have the terrible inconvenience of having to remove the seeds either before we eat the particular fruit or after we’ve put it in our mouths! But it was never meant to be so. God’s design is that fruit has seed within it, so that when a bird or animal swallows it, the hidden seed is swallowed too. The seed’s outer casing is then softened in the creature’s digestive tract and when the seed is expelled onto the ground – often miles from where the fruit was eaten – it will, if conditions are favourable, germinate and take root and produce another tree or plant like the one which bore the fruit that carried it.
And what I saw this morning is that the divine design does, of course, hold good for that other fruit – the fruit of the Spirit that Paul describes in Galatians 5.22-23 – “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Is it not true that such fruit is also “fruit with seed in it”? There is no such thing as seedless love, for example. When I show real love – Spirit-produced love; or when I exercise real gentleness – Spirit-produced gentleness, is it not the case that the love or the gentleness or the kindness or whatever has within it a seed of divine life that, given the right conditions, will germinate within the recipient and spring up to eternal life?
That is so good to know. It is surely the truth that lies behind that famous saying attributed to St Francis of Assisi: “Preach te Gospel at all times … and use words if necessary.” The seed that can bring someone to life is not only present in our speech but also in our love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – if those qualities are springing from the Spirit of Jesus in our own hearts and lives.
So often, if there has been no opportunity to speak of Jesus to the person alongside us on the train or bus or plane, we think we have somehow failed to communicate the Gospel. Not so if we have let them taste our Spirit-produced love, joy, peace and so on. It is “fruit with seed in it” – thanks be to God!