Friday, May 23, 2014

What is spiritual fruit?

cluster of grapes growing on a fence
TODAY'S SPECIAL: John 15:1-17

TO CHEW ON: "'By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.'" John 15:8

In today's reading Jesus, using the metaphor of vine and branches, teaches the importance of His followers bearing fruit. What fruit is He talking about? The many people one has won to Christ? Good works one has done, as in the number of people fed, poor helped, orphans parented, prisoners visited?

I believe it could include these things. But a brief Bible overview of spiritual fruit and fruitfulness shows that its presence in one's life encompasses more than that,

Spiritual fruit:

  • Needs good receptive soil - Matthew 13:8. We could say that the person who wants to be spiritually fruitful must be spiritually receptive.
  • Is the product of heavenly wisdom. James describes it as "… pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy" - James 3:17.
  • Comes in many varieties. The "fruit of the Spirit" is listed in Galatians 5:22-23: "… love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control…" Paul calls them the "fruits of righteousness" - Ephesians 5:9.
  • Is meant to glorify God - Philippians 1:11 and our focus verse (John 15:8) explicitly state that. 
  • Is perennial (Ezekiel 47:12) and those who bear it have no age limit: "…They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing" - Psalm 92;13,14.

Our John 15 reading shows four more things about spiritual fruitfulness:

  • When we are "in" Jesus the vine, we're expected to bear fruit. If we don't we'll be removed  - John 15:2,6.
  • We may experience pruning (ouch!) but that is so we will bear more fruit - John 15:2.
  • We don't produce this fruit on our own initiative or through our own resources. In fact we can't. It develops in us as Jesus lives His life and and through us - John 15:4,5.
  • This abiding-in-Jesus-the-vine life guarantees us answered prayers. Jesus says: "'… ask what you desire and it shall be done for you'" - John 15:7. Of course under such intimate conditions we'll be asking for things that are in line with His will.

I ask myself, what sort of branch am I? Does my life fall in line with the conditions of fruitfulness? Am I attached to the Vine?  Have I recognized God's pruning in the difficulties and setbacks of life? Do I welcome it for what it is?  Am I producing fruit? What about you?

Dear Jesus, please teach me more of what it means to abide n You and allow You to bear fruit through me. 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.

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