verse 11: being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
The word “filled” here is the Greek word plēroō and is the origin of our word “fulfilled.” It means “to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full”–this is the word that Jesus used in Matthew 5:17 when He said He did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. History shows us that Jesus completed in Himself every requirement of the law as the perfect sacrificial lamb. Nothing was left undone.
In the same way, we find that kind of fulfillment when the fruits of righteousness spill over in our lives. God would not have grafted the Gentile church into the Vine if there was not an innate need in us to bear fruit. Simply put, we find our purpose and identity in the process of bringing forth those things which are good and right.
The fruits of righteousness here are the works of integrity and virtue (dikaiosynē). This righteousness comes through faith in the gospel–the power of salvation according to Romans 1:17. What Paul is saying, then, is that a life that is overflowing in love and free from offense is a life of faith in God. The fruit that He finds pleasing and acceptible in this context is a life that trusts Him. Too often we reduce “fruit” merely to how many people we personally lead to the Lord. This limits the fullness of what God desires to see in us. The Great Commission comes secondary to the Greatest Commandment–to love the Lord with heart, soul, mind, and strength. The fruit of love is character, self-control, patience, turning the other cheek.
In this, we glorify the Father. Our greatest arsenal against the evil one is in living counter-culture. Our prayers carry greater weight when we back them up with the authority of Jesus shining through a surrendered lifestyle. Faith that is tested, salted with fire, is faith that impacts its spiritual environment.
We only bear the fruits of righteousness through the grace of Jesus Christ working in our lives. We do not have the capacity to blossom in ourselves any more than a plucked rose can bloom more than a few days after being removed from the stem. When we bear fruit, it is simply a result of the steady nourishment we receive from Jesus and the careful tending that the Father–the garden keeper of John 15–gives to us.
And the reason for this tending? Again, everything comes down to love…