Bearing Much Fruit
John 15:1-6 ESV
“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.”
What does it mean for us, as followers of Jesus Christ, to bear fruit? What is this fruit that we are to bear (exhibit, convey, show evidence of)? First and foremost, it is the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
The fruit we are to give evidence of in our lives also involves our actions and our deeds, which are the result of us being “in Christ.” It is everything we do as a result of our relationship with Jesus Christ which reveals whether or not we truly are “in Christ.” But, it is also our attitudes, our values, and our thinking and believing, too, which then come out in our actions and deeds.
Is it all black or all white? What I mean is, will our fruit be absolutely perfect in every way every time for it to be good fruit? I think not, although, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are no longer under the control of sin, but we are now under the control of righteousness, so our fruit should bear that out.
But, we are being made perfect, and we won’t be absolutely perfect until Jesus returns and he takes us home to be with him forever. And, that is why Jesus has to prune us. And, Paul said he wasn’t yet perfect, that he had not yet arrived, but he pressed on. But, he wasn’t saying that he was dabbling in sin, either, for if he was, he could not have taught what he did.
Another aspect of this fruit-bearing, too, is that it is not self-generated. In other words, we can’t be just “good deed doers.” That is not what he is talking about. This fruit doesn’t come from ourselves, it comes from God, and it is only through genuine relationships with Jesus Christ, which abide (live, exist) in him, that we can bear that fruit.
And, to abide in Christ means to live in him and him in us. And, to live in him is to walk in his ways in his power and strength within us. It is to walk in obedience to his commands, to his instructions to us, his church, as recorded for us in the New Testament. And, when our lives are centered in Jesus Christ, and not in ourselves, it will be evident by what we do, and by what we say, and by our attitudes, too, if Christ is in us or not.
Bearing Good Fruit
Luke 6:43-45 ESV
“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
Again, I don’t believe this is all black and white. Yes, we are either in Christ, by faith in him, or we are not. There is no in between. But, from what I read in the Scriptures, it is clear to me that the Christians were not instantly perfect, but that they had to grow in Christ to maturity, which involved putting off the deeds of the flesh and putting on Christ and his righteousness daily. And, they had to abide in Christ, and Christ in them.
If they were all instantly perfect, without any fault, then we would not have had need for all the writings to the church with all the instructions in godly living, and with all the warnings against falling away or returning to their old ways, etc. They also would not have needed all the warnings against false teaching and false teachers, and all the teachings necessary to help them to discern truth from lies. Yet, they needed regular encouragement to keep them on the right path, and to keep them from falling back into sin.
Yet, what I see consistent throughout the whole of the New Testament is that the Christian life is about our walks of faith, how we live day to day, one day at a time. It isn’t that we never fail, but it is that we don’t make sin our habit, that we are no longer under the control of sin, but now we are slaves to righteousness. So, the fruit here would be the evidence of lives lived for Christ or for the flesh. Are we living according to the Spirit? Or, are we living according to the flesh? What do our lifestyles reveal? That is our fruit.
If we are living for the flesh, it will be evident by our lifestyles. And, if we are living for the Lord, that will also be evident by how we live our lives as a normal course of living, too. And, what is stored up in our hearts will come out through our actions, our attitudes, and our words, as well.
In a way, that can be a good thing, though, for it shows us what is in our hearts so that we can take it to the Lord in prayer, and we can allow him to heal those areas in our hearts and to release those broken areas to the Lord, and to let them go, to forgive others, and to let the Lord fill those broken areas with his love and his fruit.
Fruit Not Shaken
Luke 6:46-49 ESV
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
Now, here we get to the crux of the matter. We can’t fake it. We can’t just perform by doing nice things. The fruit that shows whether or not Christ is in us, and us in him, is our obedience to our Lord. But, again, this is not speaking of absolute sinless perfection, but of our practices, our lifestyles; of our normal every day course of living our lives.
Do we walk in obedience to the Lord as a matter of course? Or, are we serving our flesh, instead, but pretending that we are walking with the Lord? For, confessing with our mouths that Jesus is Lord doesn’t mean that he is Lord (owner-master) of our lives. For, “Lord” is not just a title given to Jesus. It means he is the owner and he is the master of our lives, and our lives are surrendered to him to do his will and to not go our own way.
For, it is everyone who is coming to Christ, and who is doing his words whose lives are not shaken by the storms of life, because their lives are founded on the Rock, Jesus Christ, and not on the flesh. But, those whose lives have not the foundation of Jesus Christ, for they are still living to the flesh, they will not stand, for they hear the words of God, but they do not put them into practice as a matter of course. And, so they will fall. Their lives will be ruined.
For, we are all going to reap what we sow. If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction. But, if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life. So, don’t be fooled! Don’t buy into the lies that tell you that how you live and what you do don’t matter for eternity. They do! (Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; 2 Co. 5:10; Rom. 8:1-17).
So, walk with Jesus, follow him in obedience, and you won’t walk in the darkness, but you will have the light of life (Jn. 8:12; cf. 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
Footprints of Jesus
Lyrics by Mary B. Slade, pub. 1871
Music by Asa B. Everett
Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me!
And we see where Thy footprints falling
Lead us to Thee.
Though they lead o’er the cold, dark mountains,
Seeking His sheep;
Or along by Siloam’s fountains,
Helping the weak.
If they lead through the temple holy,
Preaching the Word;
Or in homes of the poor and lowly,
Serving the Lord.
If Thy way and its sorrows bearing,
We go again,
Up the slope of the hillside, bearing
Our cross of pain.
Then, at last, when on high He sees us,
Our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus
End at His throne.
Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.
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