No Command to Bear Fruit
Saturday - April 10th
Scripture to Read Today: John 15:1-11
This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit,
showing yourselves to be my disciples. -Jesus
Soon after we moved to Southern California, I bought a small lemon tree and a small orange tree for our backyard. I bought citrus tree fertilizer and food. I found a website that described how to grow citrus trees to make them vibrant, healthy, and fruit-bearing. For about two years, I followed the instructions closely.
Neither tree grew taller. The orange tree never had any oranges grow on it. The lemon tree produced one lemon a year. Both lemons were great, but waiting a year to get one lemon didn't make my citrus farming worthwhile. The lemon tree with its one lemon bent over like Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree with the one ornament weighing down the tree's single spindly branch. In the third year, neither tree bore any fruit. After about five years, both trees had become sticks stuck in the ground, with one to three leaves on each.
I learned from several friends who had grown flourishing citrus trees in their yards that my location was my problem. It seems the canyon in which we live has proven to be challenging in developing healthy citrus trees. It is due to some very cool nights that border on freezing each winter. One friend in our neighborhood said it even depends on which street you live as to whether you can grow vibrant oranges and lemons. So, I've given up my dream of fresh orange juice and lemonade from the Thornton citrus groves.
John 15:1-11 mentions bearing fruit six times. As the disciples heard Jesus call Himself the true vine, they knew the Old Testament referenced Israel as God's true vine. Israel had been God's intended means through which He would bear fruit in the world. In the Upper Room, the night before His crucifixion, Jesus claimed He and His followers would now be the focus of God bearing fruit in the world.
Christ's claim to be the true vine and His followers the branches through which the vine would bear fruit was a radical claim. As He gave His disciples the final instructions He had for them before His crucifixion, Jesus clearly indicates they are to bear fruit. Yet, He never commands His followers to bear fruit in John 15:1-11. The critical command of the passage is to abide in Jesus. When we do that, the result will be our lives bearing much fruit for the Lord. You can't produce spiritual fruit on your own no matter how hard you try.
As I wrote yesterday, the fruit God wants us to bear involves both the Christlike qualities of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and new followers of Christ. We do not set out to produce fruit in our lives for God's glory. We follow Christ's command to abide in Him. When we abide in the Vine, the fruit will come naturally. Abiding means spending time getting to know Him through His Word and in our prayers. As we deepen our relationship with Christ, draw our spiritual nourishment from Him, and depend entirely upon Him for our very lives, the fruit becomes the natural outcome. Sweet abiding in Christ daily produces the fruit God desires from us.
What you are doing now in reading this Take5 devotional and the John 15:1-11 referenced above is a means of abiding. Keep leaning into the Lord each day by opening His Word - letting Him speak to you. Keep leaning into Him by praying each day - you sharing your heart with Him. That is abiding in Christ!
As we abide in Christ, His fruit naturally comes from our lives as others see Jesus in and through us!