Following directly on the heels of yesterday’s post, Who Am I? I Am a Branch of the True Vine, today I want to expand on what being a healthy branch means.
If you missed any other posts in this series: Who Am I? Table of Contents
If we are truly attached to the True Vine, then it follows that we will have life. “As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me,” Jesus said (Jn.15:4). A branch that has life is a branch that bears fruit. Otherwise, you will end up like those branches in verse 6 of the same passage, “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch that withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” So, it is a serious thing to bear fruit, because it means you are truly abiding in Christ!
But, what does bearing fruit look like? What fruit should be evident in our Christian lives now that we are in Christ? Let us consider these things:
If you look on further in John 15 you will see that Jesus tells his disciples to keep his commandments. This is obedience to whatever he has asked his followers to do! His followers are to abide in him as he abides in the Father and they are to keep his commandments as he has kept the Father’s commandments. But, what is his commandment(s) to those who follow him and abide in him?
John 15:12 (ESV)
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Bam! Jesus drops the mic and walks off the stage, right? Nope. He continues to add/expand on what type of love we are to have toward one another.
John 15:13–17 (ESV)
13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Bearing the fruit of obedience is all focused on depending/abiding in the True Vine, who in turn in abiding in the Father. Obedience is listening to what Jesus commands and then putting that obedience into practice.
Obedience is great, but what are we to obey? What has Jesus commanded? Well, as I mentioned above, we are to love one another the same way the Father loves the Son and the Son loves us. So, we abide in Christ by obeying his commands and one of those commands is to love as he loves. What does that look like? Jesus spells that out in verse 13. He would fulfill that command by laying down his life for those whom he loves. Likewise, our love should be just as sacrificial. Abide by obeying, obey by loving.
What other passages teach us about the fruit we should be bearing? Certainly Galatians 5:22-26.
Galatians 5:22–26 (ESV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Jesus, back in John 15 said that he was saying these things that his joy would be found in us and that our joy would be full/complete. So, it follows that if you abide in the True Vine, obey what he commands by loving others as he loves them, that you will experience joy. Not a petty emotion that this world often offers us, but a true soul-quenching, Christ-like joy. Your life should look annoyingly joyful to others. Well, ok, maybe this isn’t just outside joy, but certainly the inward joy your heart/soul experiences will change how you act. We all know those believers who are way to joyful all the time don’t we? They smile 24/7, they skip everywhere, and they frustrate those of us who have a glass half-empty mentality. Yet, all they are doing is showing the fruit of joy that comes from abiding in Christ.
Another fruit that comes with abiding in the True Vine is peace. Paul in Galatians is not talking about a peace that comes from not fighting back in war or whatever, but a peace that quiets the heart because you are depending on God. Instead of being anxious for everything you look at the birds of the air who are fed by the hand of God even though they do not have barns to store their food like we do. You look at the lilies of the field and see how the Good Lord has tended to them. Are you not more valuable than a bird or a flower!?! Yes! You are created in God’s image after all! So, this is a peace that comes from depending on the Lord for all things. Food, money, clothing, physical needs, spiritual needs, and so on. Abide and find peace.
This is not the patience you have when you are waiting in line at McDonalds and the cashier hasn’t called you forward yet. No, this is a patience that looks much like God’s steadfast love. The Lord is patient with us when we fail or when we don’t quite understand what he is asking of us. Likewise, we are to be patient with each other as well as with the Lord. Romans 8:28 should be running through your mind at all times. All things work together for the good of those who love God. When trials come you persevere by abiding in Christ bearing the fruit of patience. You remain standing like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in due time. You depend on God now, even when it is really hard, and fruit will appear. Maybe not the fruit you expect, but fruit nonetheless.
I will make a second post today about the other fruit that should be present in our lives, but know this: In Christ you are a fruit-bearer. If you are not then there is a problem. Being a fruit-bearer does not come naturally. It takes a tremendous amount of effort. But, that effort is pleasing to the Lord!
Look for post #2 about more fruit!