I can throw a pity party with the best of them.

The Spirit has encouraged more righteous responses from me over the years, but when circumstances don’t go like I planned, or I don’t get the attention I think I need, or the husband or kids don’t respond to me in the way I think they should, it’s all too easy to haul out my box of woe-is-me streamers and bitter balloons.

There’s a reason for this.

Paul writes to the Colossians in verses 1:5-6 that they “have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing — as it also does among you…”

The gospel is quite busy in these verses: It comes. It bears fruit. It increases in not only the whole world, but in the souls of those who hear it.

That’s because the gospel is unfailingly active. It is more than a set of truths to believe, it is a transforming force — a Person — unstoppable in its power to change and grow the heart.

If you follow this gospel — the good news of what Christ has done to save you — it can’t help but move you forward. It will give you peace but make you restless. It will fulfill you but leave with longing. It will plant your feet firmly but compel you to run and finish the race.

It will bear fruit.

And this can be the reason behind our pity parties — the basis for our bitterness, even as Christians.

We were made to bear fruit. We will bear it. But good fruit borne for ourselves, for our pride, for our own image, for our righteousness — even under the guise of bearing it for someone else — weighs our souls down. The branches of our works droop to the ground; the trunks of our hearts cannot hold it.

So our fruit falls, rotten and unheeded to the ground, or it gets stored in bushels for our own self-satisfaction, where it spoils because we cannot possibly consume it all.

The stench of it surrounds us. And something we love — something once so sweet to us like friendship or a job or a motherhood or a marriage — quickly turns sour, becoming something we hate.

Fruit has been getting us in trouble since the garden days. It was not meant for us then, and it is not meant for us now. We are called to “taste and see” that the Lord is good. We are asked to “take and eat” the sacrifice of our Christ to satisfy our hearts.

But the fruit — our fruit — is grown to be given away. We were never meant to take our nourishment from the harvest of our works.