Spiritual Fruit or Tinsel? Take the TEST

The difference between Spiritual Fruit and Tinsel is fruit actually feeds people, nourishes their souls from the nourishment they’ve received from the Vine.

“Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me….” John 15:4

What is the difference?

Not until many years after I began my Christian walk had I fully realized the difference between spiritual fruit and tinsel.  From the outside people saw a seminary student, pastor’s wife, bible study teacher, and a homeschooling mom- that appeared very fruitful.

After all, my life revolved around the Bible. However it didn’t include a close abiding relationship with Christ which produces true fruit of the Holy Spirit.

I honestly believe just like we are called to be in the WORLD but not of it, in a similar way you can be IN the WORD, but not necessarily OF it. Does that make sense? That we can be reading God’s Word, maybe even daily or regularly but not have it change us or effect us in any way?

The problem wasn’t necessarily that I had filled my life with bad things but that I had done “Godly things” in the power of the flesh in order to appear more righteous or religious and convinced myself that was  what being “fruitful” meant.

Appearance Is Not Enough

For some time, the appearance of all that good fruit was enough for me… That is until I began to shrivel up spiritually.

My world crashed, and all my idols came rolling out everywhere. Kind of like when you accidentally drop your purse and everything falls out! You frantically start picking it up and can’t believe all the junk you’ve been collecting.  Yeah – that was me.

Consequently God had a lot of pruning to do in my heart! Matthew 3:8 became my first goal. “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” I knew in order to bear fruit I had to clean out those dark crevices of my soul and repent of everything I put before Him. I planted myself in God’s word and I learned what it meant to have Christ as Lord of my life – every aspect. Only then did God begin to show me my idols. I found that each piece of tinsel was rooted in some form or fashion of an idol.

 Tinsel is showy or superficial attractiveness in the efforts to draw attention to yourself – Not God.

The Inner Pharisee in All of Us

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27-28)

One day I found a way to communicate this new revelation to my children, in a way they won’t ever forget. You may not either if you tend to load the dishwasher like I do.

You see, I am the worst offender -who doesn’t pre-rinse, doesn’t organize the cups and plates together, stacks, stuffs and trusts it will all magically come out clean…and it usually does! I amaze myself (most of the time).

SOMETIMES however, my laziness doesn’t pay off. As I pour myself some coffee and notice some nasty floating food particles… after of course my first full swig. Dump the coffee, only to find -that cup didn’t quite make it. Dried crusty patch of who-knows-what on the INSIDE.  Tricked again by the shiny, clean outside! Ugh.

This has happened enough times that people in my house ALWAYS look inside the cups before they use one (note to self, if ever visiting). So in light of this we started a little game where we empty the dishwasher together and if anyone flips over a “clean” cup only to find it dirty underneath we cry, “WOE to the Pharisees!”

Well, maybe it’s time to flip up the cup of your own soul and see what you find.  Spiritual fruit or tinsel?

Take the Tinsel TEST.

True Spiritual Fruit (Gal. 5:22)

  • Produces genuine character that includes love, joy peace, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control
  • Is a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives not our own
  • Results from pruning creating lasting change from the inside out
  • Removes the desire to do the evil we once did (think of the root of a weed)
  • Is focused on feeding and nurturing others not just ourselves
  • Is evident in your home life where there is no audience to applaud
  • Can ONLY be grown by a close, deep connection with the Vine -Jesus
  • Strives to please an audience of One. God alone.
  •  Praises God for any good found in them.
  • Is often the result of deep pruning/ brokenness
  • Leaves you feeling full of joy and satisfied in God
  • Is based on God’s faithfulness not your own
  • Is born from obedience and love of God’s Word


  • Serves/gives time, money and energy out of duty, obligation or guilt instead of heart of love.
  • Is temporary, joy manufactured, from emotions or will power
  • Removes only the visible weed (has no power over the root) and eventually grows back
  • Acts fruitless around those most comfortable with, husband, wife, children, parents…etc.
  • Is obsessed with keeping a good reputation
  • Needs constant approval from others ie. people pleasing
  • Brags about self and achievements but is very insecure
  • Tends to go over and beyond what is expected, to the point of exhaustion just to impress people.
  • Feels an emptiness at the end of the day that despite all efforts there is nothing to show.
  • Critically inspects others lives for signs of fruit..then quickly points out their areas of rot.
  • Is always comparing themselves to others.
  • Can be very self-righteous
  • Honors with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him (Matt. 15:8)

I never liked tinsel. I hate it even more tangled around my heart and strangling my spiritual life. It’s such a mess. Months, even years later I keep finding little strands everywhere…Will I ever rid myself completely of it? I press on, in the newness of Christ and by His Spirit, being both IN and OF His Word.

I find comfort knowing it is not by my fruit that I am saved but my faith. On the day I meet Him face to face my tinsel will all melt away, and only the true fruit will remain.

Transformation from superficial to superfruitful begins with being real.

Watch or share the Vlog here!

If you’d like, check out my post Should I Impersonate Christ?

Do You Have an Idol? Nope! Go Fish!

Modern Day Tulip Mania – Do You Have It?

Recommended resources:

Tim Keller on “How to Change” – Listen here

The Making of a Modern Day Pharisee








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