In last Sunday’s study of John 15, we learned of God’s insistence that we produce fruit.
Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8).
After the service, several expressed concern to me about what they perceive as a lack of fruit-bearing in their lives.
On the one hand, what they are thinking/feeling could have been the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and, if that is the case, I don’t want to interfere.
In the same “Farewell Discourse” as the vine/branch teaching (John 14-17), Jesus said this about the Holy Spirit: “When he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth” (16:13). He also said, “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (16:8).
On the other hand, we must be discerning about such matters as fruitfulness because we also have an enemy who is the “accuser” and tries to tear us down.
Should we be thinking about our fruitfulness? Absolutely! However, there are several things to keep in mind as we do.
The first thing to keep in mind is that fruit is multi-faceted. Remember, the Bible defines “fruit” as the following:
§ Possessing Christ-like character
§ Praising God
§ Loving others sacrificially
§ Leading the lost to Christ
Therefore, if somebody says, “I haven’t been fruitful,” we need to ask, “in what regard?”
A second thing to keep in mind is that fruit isn’t always observable, particularly as it relates to our influence on other people. For example, in my late 20’s, I led a ministry for 6th graders. I often felt frustrated and wanted to quit. Years later, I received a letter from one of those 6th graders (now an adult) and the letter said, “You changed my life.” Of course, it was God who changed his life, but you get my point: Fruit isn’t always observable.
A third thing to keep in mind is that there are seasons of fruitfulness. Looking back on my life, I think I was relatively fruitful in my 30’s, but then that fruitfulness seemed to dip in my 40’s. I’ve been hoping & praying that my 50’s & 60’s will be the MOST fruitful of my life. Likewise for you . . . your greatest season of fruitfulness may be yet to come!
Finally, keep in mind that fruitfulness is guaranteed for those who “remain in Christ.” Jesus made this clear when He said: “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit” (John 15:5). That is a flat-out guarantee of fruitfulness for believers who maintain fellowship (communion) with Christ.