Fruitful

“…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

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control….” – Galatians 5:22-23

All spiritual fruit is borne out of your response to the drawing of the Spirit as you remain faithfully close to Jesus, the perfect embodiment of these traits. It’s much too soon to talk about “works” in your life because those external actions occur only as a result of fruit bearing. Be patient. Putting works ahead of fruit bearing becomes “about you” and not about your Master Teacher. This is where pride subtly creeps into your life. Always keep in mind that discipleship is only about one thing – the life of Jesus being more fully formed in you. This is fruit bearing. “Bearing” means to carry the weight, to endure (e.g. bearing a child, bearing a burden). In the Biblical Greek, this is confirmed.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 15, we are told of an intimate gathering with Jesus and a few of His closest disciples. (Perhaps picture yourself among them.) A common practice of the Master Teacher was to use metaphorical language to teach important lessons. Here He used the agricultural process of cultivating grapes (being one of the staple crops in first-century Mediterranean agriculture) to illustrate the Spirit’s work in His students to bear spiritual “fruit” ultimately leading to holiness and translating into works of ministry.

The Vine and the branches

“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. I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. – John 15:4-8

Through this teaching, the little class of followers was to understand they were the fruit-bearing branches, the vinedresser was the Father God, and Jesus was the True Vine and life source. The “bearing” was not only an inner formation (as is seed formation in grape plants) but it required endurance over a period of time, where it would appear on the outside that nothing was happening in the branches. It was an internal growth process that required careful and close attention. Between the vine and the vinedresser, much work was required to nurture, nourish and cultivate healthy fruit from the branches. This necessarily involved the vinedresser closely examining, pruning, trimming, and lifting up weak or unproductive branches. Not only that, there was a thriving wine industry – a natural outgrowth of the many vineyards. Thus grapes were painstakingly cultivated only to be crushed! Undoubtedly, all of this cultivating would’ve been painstakingly intense and continuous work. This meticulous tending process of the vinedresser may’ve seemed brutal and harsh to those students listening intently!

“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

You as one of the branches need to remember all that work of the Vine and Vinedresser in a spiritual sense is done in love, mercy and wisdom, for your ultimate good. You won’t always understand at the time all the painful pruning, trimming, cutting away and crushing being done to you. This is the “bearing” of spiritual fruit in a maturing follower of Jesus. Give it time. Trust in Him. The end result in you will be a sweet and nourishing wine that will glorify God.

“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

What fruit bearing looks like

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 people.

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.

As a branch of the Vine, this fruit of Christ in me is becoming wine. The fruit of my life being crushed to release its redeeming power. As a broken vessel, wine pours out from within me. 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.
– JCH

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