Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Bearing Fruit For The New Year

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

9"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name." John 15:1-16

I've joined in with a group of ladies online for a study this year on bearing fruit. I'm really looking forward to it. We're just a few days into the discussions of the first verses, and already I can tell that I am going to glean so much from these women- and I hope that I can also add to the discussion.

Something that was brought up that I think is key to the idea of bearing the good fruit that God desires us to bear is something that we don't even have to do. As we read the verses above, we are being compared to the branches of a grapevine, where Jesus is our vine, and we are the branches. If we think in a practical, physical sense, on a grapevine, what do the branches actually do? Well, they bear the eventual grapes that will produce, but other than that, they don't actually do anything. What they do is remain attached to the vine. In other words, all we have to do is stay attached to Jesus, and the fruit will grow. We need to remain attached at all times. A branch that is snapped off is discarded... oh, I really, really don't want to be discarded.

I want to remain in the vine at all times. I want to abide in Him, while He abides in me.

And yet... there's more to this bearing fruit. I hope to have many more tidbits to share about this in the weeks to come, as I think there is a lot to be said about the analogy of bearing fruit. I don't think the Bible uses fruit as an analogy as a mistake. It's purposeful, and we can look at the physical aspects of fruit growing to understand how we should go about putting ourselves in the best positions to bear our precious fruit.

Today I think of pear trees. Pears are one of my absolute favorite fruits. I love them when they are at the perfect stage of still a little crunchy, but beginning to release their juice. Pears are so unique in flavor and shape, and they also grow uniquely. A pear tree must have a partner in order to grow fruit. A love pear tree in the wilderness will be a lively tree, but without another pear tree nearby to pollinate it, it will not produce fruit. A pear tree needs companions as it grows, to help the fruit come forth. In exact same way, we as Christians need partners. As a pear tree needs to be surrounded with trees who bear the same fruit- we also need to surround ourselves with people who bear Godly fruit.

"By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit." Matthew 7:16-18

By their fruit we will recognize them. And then we need to surround ourselves with these like people. We need to spend time with them, and spend time encouraging each other in our walks with the Lord. And together we can share our growth, and together we can bear the fruit that shows the world around us that we are children of God.

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