Fruitful – old version

Traits of a Christ follower

Photo by Marek Studzinski

“The branch of the vine does not worry, and toil, and rush here to seek for sunshine, and there to find rain. No; it rests in union and communion with the vine; and at the right time, and in the right way, is the right fruit found on it. Let us so abide in the Lord Jesus.” – Hudson Taylor

“…It’s the natural outcome of a heart that is tuned into the Father, abiding and remaining in Him… My efforts and good work should be a natural outcome of the fruit in my life. – Chip Ingram

I am Fruitful.

What does it really mean to bear fruit, that is, to be fruitful? Bearing something is to carry the weight, to endure (e.g. bearing a child, bearing a burden). In the Biblical Greek, this is confirmed.

And of course, “bearing fruit” in scripture can be seen as metaphorical language specifically related to the cultivation of grapes, one of the most significant fruit crops in first-century Mediterranean agriculture.

Perhaps this choice of comparison to cultivating grapes is used by Jesus to help HIs followers understand that the “bearing” is not only an inner formation (as is seed formation in grape vines) but it requires endurance over a period of time, where it appears on the outside that nothing is happening. It’s an internal maturation process that requires careful and close attention by a “vinedresser.”

In the life of a follower of Christ (a fruit bearer), the vinedresser is the Father God, as Jesus is the True Vine and life source (the Way, the Truth and the Life) for developing fruit of the Spirit.

Not only this, but the culture within which Jesus and His disciples lived had a thriving wine industry. Thus grapes were painstakingly cultivated mainly to be crushed (or pressed) when fully mature, so they could flow forth to benefit others!

This beautifully illustrates key principles for Jesus’ followers. Bearing spiritual fruit (i.e. being fruitful, as in the fruit of the spirit) is wholly an internal process of maturity of the fruit, but even as mature fruit it’s not yet useful until it flows forth. Once the fruit is fully matured, it’s pressed to pour out its fragrant, rich and sweet blessing to others in the form of loving actions, works and ministries. The “pressing” in a spiritual sense is only for God to orchestrate and allow in the lives of His children.

“His process is miraculous because it isn’t natural for us to undergo pressing (suffering) and patiently endure it. And, sadly, there are many Christians who spend all their time crying out in the midst of adversity just like those in the world around them. As His bride, however, we are to face our trials with the calmness His Spirit provides us, knowing that God means our suffering for good, and out of it will come rejoicing afresh in Him. Yes, Jesus will complete the work He has begun in us, but it won’t get done unless we cooperate with the process. We can’t afford to settle for… grapes on the vine. They are only symbols of what “can be.” They are the fruit that we need to allow God to mature in us, and as part of that process we will become spiritually mature in Him. But that won’t happen if we don’t allow Him to take us into “presses” of life in order to bring out the very best of what He has placed within us.” – Thomas M Mitchell

My life of religion is being dismantled. A focus on my own works is being relinquished. Replaced by a simple longing for Jesus. More surrender, less effort. More freedom, less guilt. I have not – nor will I in this life – figure it all out. It is a process of time. But I confess my “Lord, Lord” has been spoken from a heart that did not fully know Him. Falling in line with other believers, I placed my own efforts ahead of God. I was “doing it for God,” as if He needed or wanted that, or as if I could prove something to Him.

Then Jesus found me where I thought He would never go. Starting again, through my brokenness, something began in darkness and silence. A tiny seed, under pressure and pain, came alive in me. And I learned that this is what fruit bearing looks like. Of the Spirit, to the spirit. God within me, growing. Revealed in Jesus who became my righteousness, holiness and redemption through death and new life. A life of fruitfulness. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Pure. Peace loving. Considerate. Submissive. Full of mercy and sincerity. Hidden, but thriving in my heart.

And without even my knowing, this fruit of Christ is becoming wine. The fruit of my life being crushed to release its redeeming power. I’m becoming the vessel, wine pouring out from within. This is where fruit becomes works. Works rendered by the fruit. Like Abraham and other heroes of the faith, that in Christ, others might be nourished, and blessings multiplied, to the glory of God.

“The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this.” – Galatians 5 :22-23

“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.” – Words of Jesus (John 15:4)

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