We have a lot of trees and plants in our yard. A couple of times a year we do major trimming and pruning. We start as early in the morning as possible and usually finish by early afternoon–with several piles of green trash ready for pick-up. Sometimes I don’t want to cut off certain branches, because they look so vibrant and healthy. But after being cut off, by the end of the day, they are completely wilted. Within a few days, they are dry and crunchy. They are no longer attached to their source of life and don’t have much use. Well, a few of the thicker ones might be good for the little fire pit on our pergola.
John 15 contains some of Jesus’ last words to His disciples. It is the night of His arrest; the day before His crucifixion. So you know that the things He is telling them are things He wants them to remember when He is gone. Using the metaphor of a grape vine, He gives them the key to a fruitful life.
I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. (John 15:5) [Emphasis added.]
Like the wilted limbs left in the trash heap, when we are not connected to Christ, we are not fruitful. Jesus wants us to bear fruit! And not just a little bit.
His plan is for us to bear much fruit.
Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit … When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. (John 15:5 and 8)
“Remaining in Christ” is simply cultivating and maintaining your relationship with Him. Relationships thrive when people make each other a priority. With Christ, that means spending time with Him every day–reading the Bible and praying. It also means being obedient to what He teaches us. When we are doing those things, we are securely connected to Him.
The result? Fruit! Fruit can be several things,
It is the character of Christ evidenced in our lives, the fruit of the Spirit.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23)
It is also the result of our service to God and others. When we are busy serving, but not maintaining our relationship with God, we aren’t that effective in our service. Sometimes we are downright ineffective.
Sometimes I have been so completely caught up in a service activity, that I was too busy to spend time with God. I felt like I was spinning around and not accomplishing anything. The result was not something that honored Him.
When we seek God first, and then move forward in the things He wants us to do, the result will be positive. It will have lasting results. It’s so much better that way. Some things take a lot of time and physical energy. We may be exhausted when we’re finished. But we do them in God’s strength and He fills in the gaps where we are weak.
Each time he [God] said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
The key is maintaining our relationship with Christ–staying connected to the vine. Remember that He said, “Without me you can do nothing!”The key to a fruitful life is staying connected to Jesus!
Image: Pixabay (Gerhard Gellinger)