Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the value of all final goods and services produced in an economy during a year. It is often adjusted for inflation (Real GDP) to allow comparisons with previous time periods.
Real GDP is the broadest and most frequently used measure of the output, or fruit, of an economy, but it is not the only measure. We could use Gross National Product, the number of people employed or unemployed, median family incomes, the distribution of income, degradation of the environment, the size and type of the safety net for the poor and struggling, average educational level, quality of health care, crime, corruption or a variety of other metrics.
This past week, the U.S. Bureau or Economic Analysis (BEA) reported its second estimate of fourth quarter 2015 GDP. The annualized quarter to quarter change in Real GDP was estimated to be a higher than expected at 1.0 percent; up from 0.7 percent for the first estimate and expectations of around 0.4 percent.
However, much of the increase was due to an unwanted increase in inventories; the result of personal consumption expenditures dropping from 2.2 percent to 2.0 percent. Businesses had planned for consumers to purchase more, and when sales were less than expected, inventories increased. Weak exports and weak business investment were also limiting factors. Home construction was a plus.
In the kingdom, we are commanded to be fruitful. We were chosen and called to bear fruit; long lasting, eternal fruit. The Lord even indicated a relationship between our fruitfulness and the answer of our prayers. If we want to glorify the Father and be a disciple of the Lord, we will bear much fruit.
"You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that the Father may give you whatever you ask Him in My name" (John 15:16, MEV).
"My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples" (John 15:8, MEV).
As there are many metrics to measure the performance of an economy, there are many types of fruit in the kingdom. The fruit of the Spirt has nine manifestations. There is also the fruit of repentance (Matthew 3:8), the fruit of holiness (Romans 6:22), the fruit of our lips which is the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15), and the fruit of evangelism (John 4:35-36).
We are told to judge false prophets, who are ravenous wolves, by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-16). Jesus called those who hear the Word, understand it, and bear fruit, the good ground where 30, 60, and 100 fold returns are promised (Matthew 13:23).
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control; against such there is no law" (Gal. 5:22-23, MEV).
Fruit is a byproduct of our relationship with the Lord. He is the vine, we are the branches, and we cannot bear fruit without Him (John 15:4-5). Our worldly and fleshly efforts will not be long-lasting. Is Jesus truly our King? Are we preaching the complete Word without compromise? Are we men and women of prayer? Do we fast? Are we helping the poor? Are we inviting the presence and power of the Holy Spirit? Are we diligent? Are we long-suffering?
The Lord placed great emphasis on His followers being fruitful. The destiny of many people and our eternal rewards depend upon our fruitfulness. We cannot become complacent. Past fruit is irrelevant. Let us rededicate our lives and ministries to accomplishing all the Lord has called us to do.
Dr. James R. Russell is professor of economics and chair of the Undergraduate College of Business at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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