Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Fruit Bearing

Chuckle: "What are the sins of omission," a teacher asked a Sunday School class. One man answered: "Those are the sins we should have committed and did not. . .!" (Check this man's response against the true definition in James 4:17).
Quote: “The last, best fruit which comes to late perfection, even in the kindliest soul, is tenderness toward the hard, forbearance toward the unforbearing, warmth of heart toward the cold, philanthropy toward the misanthropic.” --Jean P. Richter
    "I am the vine; and you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. . .This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples" (John 15:5-8 NIV).
Bearing fruit is a normal and healthy function of a tree and its branches. Nothing is more true in the physical world and nothing is more true in the spiritual world. Spiritually healthy Christians bear fruit. Jesus was uncanny in his ability to use metaphors, allegories, and examples from the physical world to teach valuable spiritual truths.
Here's my definition of bearing fruit: "Anything you do as a Christian that benefits other people (physically, emotionally, or spiritually) for the glory of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit working through you." This means our character becomes like Jesus; we are generous in our giving; we please God through our praise worship; and we influence people to be drawn to Christ. Jesus was saying that He, as the vine, would provide to and through us (the branches) all the spiritual nutrients, power, and abilities to bear much fruit for the glory of the Father. "It is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit." Jesus said, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:11 NLT).
Like anything we try to do as Christians, the temptation is to try to bear fruit in our own strength, forgetting that we can do nothing (bear no fruit) that will be recognized as legitimate by our Lord without the power of the Vine (Holy Spirit) flowing through us. We sometimes try to do things for God without maintaining that intimate connection to God from whence comes our spiritual strength.
Jesus says we must remain (abide) in him to bear much fruit. What does this statement really mean? It means we stay connected to Christ and totally dependent upon Him for everything to keep us spiritually alive and productive. This allows us to do what is important to Him -- bearing fruit. The moment we allow unconfessed sin to remain in our lives, we become disconnected from the vine; His strength no longer is flowing through us; and we become ineffective as fruit bearers for our Lord. God wants us to produce fruit in the likeness of Christ, and he wants to remove anything from our lives that hinders us from "bearing much fruit."
For the next few days, I want to turn to the book of Galatians, where the apostle Paul presents a list of Christian characteristics known as the "fruit of the Spirit." These types of fruit, performed in the power of the Holy Spirit, qualify as "fruit" that Jesus was talking about in John 15. Here is a list of spiritual fruit, found in Galatians 5:22, that we will be addressing in coming days. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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