Fruitfulness, in general, is a value to reproduce in a life. The purpose of fruit in a plant is to provide for germination and reproduction.
Metaphorically, it refers to participation in the expansion of the gospel and the reproduction of the character of Christ in other believer.
Believers were to “be continually learning to engage in good works.” For the third time in this chapter, Paul exhorts believers to do good works (Titus 3:1, 8, 14). Visiting teachers were moving on to other churches: “Send Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey with haste, that they may lack nothing” (3:13). One way to be fruitful, therefore, is to facilitate the ministry of itinerating evangelists, missionaries, and teachers. Pastors tended to live in one place with partial or full support.
The traveling missionaries had to learn to trust God’s guidance of other believers to provide for their needs as they continued their ministries. Paul had learned to be content (Phil 4:11) whatever his situation, whether he had plenty or could scarcely meet his team’s needs. God kept a record of everything the churches gave to meet Paul’s needs (“fruit that abounds to your account,” 4:17), a heavenly fruit that will never be forgotten.
This participatory giving is to be learned. “Good works” can refer to any act motivated by unselfish love to benefit others, especially to “meet pressing needs” of itinerating evangelists and teachers.
Generosity is a general principle for all believers: “Let him . . . labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Eph 4:28).
Believers should be taught to share in each other’s ministries and fulfill Christ’s purposes in the world encouraged by their eternal consequences and rewards.
Bearing fruit in others is also a high priority for the believer: “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (Jn 15:8). Paul wrote, “Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better” (Col 1:10).
Everything we can do to further the expansion of the gospel will never lose its reward.
“Dear Lord, I want to have a willing heart to be involved in the good works that bring others to know You and become dedicated followers through the guidance of Your holy word.”