CORAL GABLES, Fla., July 4, 2012 — “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” John 15:7-8
While sitting at my parent’s pool, I noticed a strange plant growing in the midst of the rocks that were placed around their fountain. The plant seemed a bit out of place so I asked my dad about it. Evidently, watermelons had started growing from the seeds we had spit out the year before during our summer get togethers. Throughout the summer, my kids and I enjoyed watching several watermelons being produced right before our very eyes!
As I looked at the watermelon vine and the fruit attached to the vine, John 15:5 popped into my mind: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.” As I thought about this verse, I began to imagine what would happen if I pulled the watermelon off the vine and laid it in the rocks. Inevitably it would dry up and wither away within days. It needs the vine to keep it alive. It needs the vine for nourishment. It needs the vine to become what it was designed to be.
Looking at the fruit lying there amidst all the rocks, I began to think about how we, as believers, can flourish and thrive in the midst of the rocky places of our lives. Our victory and our growth don’t have to be determined by our circumstances. Rather, we can produce much fruit in our lives no matter where we find ourselves planted. What is this fruit that can be produced in our lives? Galatians 5:22-23 says, “The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
What this verse says is that if we remain in Jesus Christ, His Spirit (the Holy Spirit) will begin to do a work in us and cause us to produce the fruit described in Galatians in our lives. The Holy Spirit will enable us to love others with God’s unconditional love. His Spirit will produce joy and peace within us even when our circumstances could tempt us to lose these things. His Spirit can help us be patient, or as other versions say, be long-suffering, so that we persevere when things get tough. His Spirit can help us be kind, good, and gentle in our dealings with others. It will also help us be faithful (loyal and steadfast).
Finally, His Spirit can help us have self control so that the things in the world and our own flesh do not rule over us. Our “fruit” is very important. In Matthew 7:16, Jesus tells us that true followers of Christ can be identified by the fruit in their lives. It’s what differentiates us from the world and gives evidence to the power of God working in our life.
The problem with Christianity today is that many Christians aren’t remaining in Christ, so He isn’t able to produce the fruit that gives us victory and that will point the world to Him. We bypass the process of allowing the Holy Spirit to go to work in our lives. We separate ourselves from the vine by focusing on our own wants and desires or by holding on to deadly emotions like fear, guilt, anger, resentment, un-forgiveness, and pride (to name a few). We rely on our own reasoning and strength rather than tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit, power that can transform anyone!
Like me, we make the mistake of thinking that producing fruit is something we “DO” for God. But notice in these scriptures, “fruit” isn’t something a person necessarily does; rather it is something that is produced by the vine it is attached to. This fruit is a quality in a person that the Holy Spirit develops which ultimately results in actions that are God-honoring. So often, believers get this concept a little backwards. We set out in life to do for God when what He is most concerned with is that we be in Him so that He can transform us from the inside out.
Like the watermelon, the secret of our victory lies in remaining on the vine. Jesus Christ is the vine. To remain means “to stay.” We need to stay in Jesus and refuse to venture out on our own, for “apart from Him we can do nothing.”
We stay in Him by drawing close through His Word, through prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. We stay close by laying aside our reasonings and listening to Him. We stay close by trusting Him and stepping out in obedience. We stay close by focusing on the One who is able to help us become what we can never become on our own. As we remain in Him, our lives will produce much fruit. Some fruit may take a little longer than others to develop, but as we surrender to the vine, He will transform us bit by bit, little by little, until our vine is full of ripe fruit for all the world to see and taste!
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