TO CHEW ON: " 'You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit but a bad tree bears bad fruit.' " Matthew 7:16,17
Comparing a life to fruit-bearing plants, Jesus points out how ludicrous it is to expect edible fruit from weeds. And by the fruit, He suggests, one evaluates a life.
Good fruit—what is it?
What is the fruit of a life? Surely Jesus isn't talking about how many physical children we have, or the multitude of things with which we surround ourselves? Most likely not. There is a fruit list in Galatians 5. Paul says there is no law against these Spirit-fruits: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control Galatians 5:22.
Good fruit—how do we bear it?
How do we find it within ourselves to produce such crops? Well, we don't. In John 15 Jesus gives instructions about fruit-bearing as a metaphor where God is the Vine, and individuals are branches. To bear good fruit it is necessary for us individuals to "abide" or live in the Vine. Abiding in the Vine will line up our will with the Vinedresser's so that prayers will be answered, because they are what He wants too. The branch's abundance will glorify God even as it brings the branch joy.
Fruit-bearing—it's serious business.
In John 15:6 Jesus also alludes to something sobering which He mentions in our passage as well—that non-fruit-bearing branches and plants will eventually be "cut down and thrown into the fire." (Matthew 7:19, see also Matthew 13:7).
What can fruit-bearing branches expect?
Pruning (John 15:2). But pruning is cutting! Ouch! Indeed, pruning may come in many ways: through circumstances, through people that challenge, irritate, and sand us to smoothness. We may do some pruning ourselves as we cut extraneous, non-fruit-bearing activities out of our lives.
As we go into today, let's reflect on what kind of fruit our life-plant is bearing. If it's not good, let's examine our attachment to the Vine; do we need re-attaching? If we're producing a measly crop, let's ask ourselves what we might do to increase that yield.
PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to be an abiding branch that allows Your fruit-producing activities of prayer and obedience flow through me even as I submit to Your pruning. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.