Sometimes when I am taking notes during a sermon, my mind focuses on one topic or illustration and it gets stuck. Maybe this is something God has placed on my heart as something I need to work on, or perhaps an illustration has struck my heart as something that could be even more powerful than I first thought.
This Sunday, our pastor talked about growing and bearing fruit. I started thinking about the benefits to the branches when they bear fruit. Fruit, in and of itself, doesn’t particularly benefit the branches, but it does benefit the plant. If we are the branches and Jesus is the Vine, then when we produce fruit it shows off Jesus to others. Us producing fruit helps spread the seeds of the Gospel.
The purpose of fruit in a plant or tree is to protect the seeds and disperse the seeds to grow more plants. Most fruit is attractive so animals or people are drawn to the plant.
Our purpose as branches is to produce fruit which helps to spread the Gospel. Did you get that? The fruit spreads the Gospel. The love, joy, peace, patience, and other fruit we share with the people around us show them Jesus. While we do have to use words, the fruits we have shown them give us the opportunity and the reason people need to hear us. It’s hard to listen to people talking about Jesus if they are not showing the fruit of that walk with Him.
That is the challenge. Are we producing fruit? Are we keeping ourselves nourished by church, by reading the Bible, and by focusing our minds on things that are good? Is it a daily habit? If not, we need to be working on it. Every single day. Luke 6:45 says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
Unfortunately, nourishment is not the only thing we need as branches. To bear healthy fruit we need pruning. And pruning is rarely an easy or pleasant thing. We have to get rid of those worldly things that want to drag us down. When branches are cut back, they produce even more fruit the next year. My mother once got a little carried away while pruning our raspberry bushes. The next summer we had more raspberries than we had ever had. She thought she had cut off too much, but the bushes flourished, and it was amazing. Sometimes we feel like we have had way too much to deal with. This time in this pandemic has been extremely trying and painful for so many people. We can feel like we can’t take any more. But God is with us. He knows exactly what we need and how much “pruning” needs to be done. What are we learning in the hard times? Do we resent the pruning or do we see the purpose and strive to grow even more fruit because of the difficulties? Are you growing? Are you producing good fruit?
John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”