I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
Recently I have been thinking through the idea of bearing fruit. The Scriptures are clear that believers are expected to bear fruit. As I thought through the analogy of bearing fruit I thought of the hard work that goes into seeing fruit grow. When I was growing up we lived in Indiana for a short period and I can remember my mom having a small tomato garden in our back yard. There was the initial work of getting the ground ready and planting the seed. Then we fertilized the dirt and watered it regularly to keep it nourished. My mom pruned the plant to keep it healthy. With all of the work invested we ended up with a total of 2 or 3 tomatoes. I was only a kid, but I let my mom know that it was a big waste of time. I reminded her of the time we invested with the little pay off we received in the end. I am sure she appreciated that feedback (kids are so honest, aren’t they?). Realistically, the work we put into our little tomato plant was incredibly small in comparison to what we would have needed to actually live off of our garden or what farmers do on a regular basis. Honestly, it was our first go at something like that so I am sure there is much more we could have done to see more fruit.
When it comes to seeing spiritual fruit in our lives it takes a lot of work. There are disciplines and practices we need to focus on in order to live in a way that honors God. Just as the farmer prepares the ground by tilling it, we need to prepare our hearts with regular self-examination and prayer. We need to ask God to search us and help us identify areas in our lives that get in the way of living for Him. We also need to ask God for the strength to let go of sin that we secretly want to hold on to. Without preparing our hearts we are just as likely to see spiritual fruit in our lives as a tomato seed is to produce fruit when planted in a pile of rocks. It ain’t gunna happen!
Once we have prepared the ground we have to get to work at watering and fertilizing with the study and meditation on the Word of God, as well as godly fellowship with other believers. Reading the Bible is great, but we are missing out on God’s purpose if we are not taking time to reflect on it and think through how we can live it out regularly. Our study of the Scriptures should be focused in on who God is and what He has provided for us. Understanding this will help us live to the high standard he has called us to. Christian fellowship should be a regular part of our lives as we seek to encourage and be encouraged in what we have learned from the Scriptures.
Seeing fruit in our lives is something that will take a lot of work, but it is worthwhile. It is work we have been called to. We have been called to be farmers and to harvest spiritual fruit in our lives. Farmers don’t walk out into fields and wonder what kind fruit will be produced. They know what will be coming up since they have worked to see a specific fruit produced. What kind of fruit are you working to produce? Here are some ideas to get started off with:
- The Fruit of Personal Character (Gal 5:22-23)
- The Fruit of Righteousness (Phil 1:11)
- The Fruit of Goodness (Eph 5:29)
- The Fruit of Holiness (Rom 6:22)
- The Fruit of Repentance (Luke 2:8)
- The Fruit of Leading Others to Christ and Building Up Believers in Christ (Rom 1:13; 15:25-28)
- The Fruit of Living Lives that will bring Praise and Honor to our Gracious God (Heb 13:15; Phil 1:11)
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