“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:22-24)
Spring is here and blossoms are opening on the trees, the flowers, and even many fruit-bearing plants like strawberries. Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits. Even though they’re one of the earliest seasonal fruits, they’re still the result of a growing process.
Strawberries have to start out as baby plants that are offshoots from a mother plant. Then, they build themselves up from their own newly formed roots and produce blossoms, from which the fruit starts to form. After the fruit ripens, the strawberries are ready to eat, if the birds don’t get them first!
This whole process is not unlike the way we bear fruit in our Christian lives. Our expectation might be that once we are baptized into Christ, we immediately will be able to walk in the light as mature Christians. However, this is not how Christian maturity develops. In a similar fashion to the way a plant has to start out as a baby and grow, Christians must also grow and mature, so that they can produce much fruit.
Jesus teaches us some important aspects about this process in John 15.
“I am the vine, and you are the branches. If any remain in me and I remain in them, they produce much fruit. (John 15:5)
Here we see that we must stay connected to Jesus in order to bear much fruit. By remaining stable and fixed in him, by studying his teachings and practicing those things in our lives, we will stay connected to the Vine and the growing fruit process will result.
“If you remain in me and follow my teachings, you can ask anything you want, and it will be given to you. You should produce much fruit and show that you are my followers, which brings glory to my Father.” (John 15:7-8)
Here we see that prayer, where we may ask God for the strength and wisdom we need to bear fruit, is also crucial to the maturing process. And when we produce this spiritual fruit in our lives, we bring honor to Jesus and our heavenly Father.
“I am the true vine; my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that does not produce fruit. And he trims and cleans every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit… Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch cannot produce fruit alone but must remain in the vine. In the same way, you cannot produce fruit alone but must remain in me. (John 15:1-2,4)
As Jesus explains more about the detail of maturing and bearing fruit, we learn the process includes having things removed from our lives that inhibit our ability to be fruitful. This may be painful to go through at times, but we can know God is always working on us for our ultimate good so we can bear “much” fruit! This trimming process should never cause us to release our hold on Jesus, who is the source of life itself.
Finally, Jesus shows us the results of this growing process as he focuses our attention on the fruit of love and joy that await those who stay connected to the “true Vine”.
“I have obeyed my Father’s commands, and I remain in his love. In the same way, if you obey my commands, you will remain in my love. I have told you these things so that you can have the same joy I have and so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy. “This is my command: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:10-12)
Our encouragement is for you to stay connected to the true vine, and continue growing and maturing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. And if you aren’t connected to the Jesus vine, we invite you to come and see for yourself how to get connected.