Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 16 November 21:
John 15:1, 2, 5 – “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…. 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.”
Jesus desires and expects continual spiritual growth and fruitfulness from His followers, not from their abilities but through His life flowing into them and through them as they abide in Him. The primary focus of the Christian isn’t to produce fruit or to do the work of the Gardner, but rather to remain connected and focused on Him so growth and fruit will occur naturally. The vine merely abides, and God does the gardening. The growth process is often painful as God “prunes” your character to make it more Christ-like and productive. Pruning removes what hinders further growth. What must be removed from your life so that you may continue to grow in Christ?
God will prune away your idols of personal achievement to teach you to abide in Him alone and glorify Him alone “that your joy may be complete” in Him alone. (John 15:11) God will prune away those things we chase after which have no eternal value because He has “appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” (John 15:16)
- Ecclesiastes 2:11 — “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”
What sort of fruit does a Spirit-led Christian produce?
First, there is the internal fruitfulness of the Spirit. See Galatians 5:22, 23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.” The attributes God removes are those opposite of the Beatitudes – He prunes away pride, pleasure seeking, arrogance, self-sufficiency, cruelty, impurity, resentfulness, bitterness, defensiveness, etc. Bearing fruit glorifies God and proves our discipleship. (John 15:8)
Second, internal fruitfulness produces external fruitfulness through joyful obedience to God’s commands which is an essential attribute of genuine love. (John 15:10, 11, 17) Those who obey God’s commands, with love and oneness with Him as their motive, are friends with Christ and understand God’s will. (John 15:15) If we walk in obedience, we will walk in the power of God (meekness) and will have rest within our spirits even though we will be hated and persecuted by the world. In our persecution, we have true fellowship with Christ.
- John 15:10 — If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
- 1 John 3:24 — Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
Third, fruitfulness involves multiplication or reproduction – fruit ultimately makes more fruit. Fruitful Christians make disciples. How are you bearing fruit in this way, not you, but God through you?
- Matthew 28:18-20 — And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
- Colossians 1:5-6 — …because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you 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, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth.
- 1 Corinthians 3:5-8 — What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.
Finally, fruitfulness is revealed in supernatural unity among believers in Christ such as was exhibited by the Early Church — see Acts 2.
- John 17:20-23 — “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
- Colossians 3:14 — And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
- Ephesians 4:13 — Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
- Romans 15:6 — That together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 Corinthians 12:13 — For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
- Galatians 3:28 — There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Are you bearing fruit in keeping with repentance? (Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:8)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 16 November 21: Focus on abiding in Christ so you will naturally bear fruit.