(A SEASON OF NEW GROWTH #12)
Wednesday, June 30th
My Father is glorified by this,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
(John 15:8 NRSV)
As we finish this series today, let’s think about the final goal, our desired outcome from nurturing our healthy spiritual growth: producing good fruits in abundance. In order to reach this end, we need to keep tending and maintaining our growth, by watching our progress and addressing any needs that arise.
When it comes to fruit trees, there is always more to learn. So many people assume that growing fruit trees is easy. You just plant your tree, water it, and wait for the harvest. The truth is that once your tree is in the ground there still is some work to do to keep it healthy. Make an effort to learn the key fruit tree care skills – including how to evaluate your site and research your trees, correct planting and young tree care, winter and summer pruning, pest and disease prevention, and soil and nutrition management. What you will discover is that the better you care for your trees, the more they will give back to you – by providing you and your family with an abundant harvest that you can enjoy for many years to come.1
How do we tend and maintain this healthy growth that produces good fruits in abundance? In John 15:5, Jesus describes himself as the vine, and us as the branches connected to him. As a “branch,” we can look two ways for the guidance and support needed to produce good fruit.
We can look to the fruit.
What are some of the good fruits that come from growing in faith? Here are a few…
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23 NRSV)
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 NRSV)
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35 NRSV)
Holding before us the desired end result, the good fruit, helps us to persevere with our purpose and direct our growth. We tend our growth by asking discerning questions as we make choices and take actions. What will be the result of the actions we take today? What sort of fruit will result? Does this decision lead to increased love for God and one another? Will this action draw people to God? Am I serving God honorably and excellently? Am I being patient, kind, and generous today?
At the end of the day, will I have made progress in growth toward all of these good fruits?
We can look to the source.
Most of all, we can produce good fruits by looking to and remaining attached to the vine, by abiding in Christ himself.
My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have 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. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:8-11 NRSV)
When we remain attached by abiding in Christ, when we keep his commandments to love God and one another, our fruits will be the natural outflow of that abiding. I have heard it said that couples begin to look more alike the longer they are together. May we develop such a close and loving relationship with Jesus that we begin to look more like him.
How might we do this? We can remind ourselves of his life and love by reading the Gospels. We can ask the Spirit to guide and reveal all that is of him. We can pray to him, seek to follow him, die to ourselves, and love him fully with a life of loving service. We can become the love of Christ in the world by letting his love flow through us, resulting in abundant and beautiful fruit.
Then at harvest time, may Christ find that we have all grown together into one beautiful garden, bursting forth with great joy – because his joy will be in us, and our joy will be complete (vs. 11).