Disciples Bear Fruit

In John 15 is the well known section where Jesus illustrates that he is the true vine (as opposed to Israel, Jesus is perfectly faithful)  and we are the branches, we are to abide. Our word “abide” is to remain, to stay with. In other words, don’t leave Jesus for sin – stay with him, trust him that his words (commandments) are truly better for us than sin.

What I was struck by this morning was how many times we see the words “bear fruit.”  I would say clearly the focus of this passage is the instruction to bear fruit for the glory of God.  Yet, quite often we hear other things emphasized more strongly in this passage – things that are about us.  How many times have you heard emphasis on v7 “…ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you”?  (As if God is a genie to grant all our wishes) Or v11 “…that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”  (as if feeling happy is our main goal in life) Joy is good, but we can’t disconnect it from the source of joy and the main focus of the passage.

If we call ourselves his disciples we are to faithfully stay near to him, not depart his side for sin, act in obedience to his word and bear fruit for his glory – in this is our abundant joy as we then are fulfilling the purpose for which he made us!

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.  (John 15:7-11 ESV)

What does it mean practically to bear fruit?  Scripture is chock full of describing the fruits – but a good quick reference is  the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Jesus says that his disciples bear much fruit…are our lives full of much of these things?  If not, pray that they will be and get after them!

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Seed sowing and growing

seed-growingIn Mark 4, we read the parable of the sower.  Parables were a kind of extended metaphors using the common topics/characters/things of the day in order to teach truths.  Lots of people could easily relate and understand farming analogies.

We read that the sower of the seed cast his seed and it fell in 4 places with different results:

  1. Along the path – where the birds came and snatched it up right away.
  2. In the rocky ground, where there was no depth and it quickly died
  3. In the thorns, when it started to grow, but was choked by the thorns
  4. The good soil – where it grow, yielding fruit many times over.

I’ve heard someone say that many American Christians are the “third seed” type – as Jesus explains in v18 that the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Am I a 3rd seeder?  Am I unfruitful in my Christianity?  Or is life choking it out?  Do I consider other things in life more important than God?

How do we nurture a faith that will produce fruit?  2 Peter 1 gives us great instruction – we grow in our knowledge of the Word – the Gospel of Jesus, and we strive (‘making every effort’) to cultivate the spiritual ruits in ourselves so that we might be effective and fruitful for Jesus.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV)