Recently at Suncrest, we’ve been exploring the fruit of the Spirit in a message series called The Nine. For me, one of the themes I believe that God is driving home with me is actually a teaching from Jesus in Matthew 7 that pertains to this whole topic of fruit:
“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit… thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:16-18, 20
This whole idea of fruit being produced in relationship to what (or who) is inside of me isn’t a new one to me, but it’s one I’m finally starting to see work out in my own life over the past month or so. When I am only living for myself, I’m bound to bear bad fruit. But when I cultivate the Spirit’s presence in my life, I bear good fruit.
Jesus had a way of stating what this looked like for his followers. He taught about it in terms of staying connected to the vine. Take a look at his words in John 15.
“Remain in me, as I also 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. 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.” John 15:4-5
Jesus’ whole point is that we bear good fruit in our lives (i.e., the fruit of the Spirit) as we stay connected to him. As I look at my life, I see that truth. When I’m connected to Christ, my life bears much fruit. But when I’m disconnected? No fruit.
Recently, I listened to a message from a guy named Shane Farmer talking about his life verse, straight from these words of Jesus in John 15 (you can listen to or watch the message here; just click on one of the links for the message entitled “John 15:5”). I loved the way he explained this and our need to recognize what is a “life curse” for many of us: thinking we can do something meaningful, everlasting, and eternal apart from Jesus.
Take some time to listen to this message (you can even download the mp3 file to put on your iPod to listen to on your way to work, while you exercise, or whatever else you may find yourself doing). Think about what it might look like for you to connect to the Vine (Jesus) in your life, and then… do it! I think as we engage with this together, we’ll see incredible fruit as a result.
What are some ways in which you practically connect to the Vine each day?