by Brian Bettes
Having just celebrated the Day of Pentecost, there are a number of things I have been thinking about with regard to what God’s Holy Spirit does through us.
One of the things Scripture tells us to do is bear fruit—in this case, spiritual fruit. John 15:1-8 is very instructive on this matter. Let’s take a closer look to see what we can “pluck” from these verses.
The first thing established is where spiritual fruit comes from—Jesus Christ and the Father (v.1). They are the source of any fruit that will be brought to bear. We also notice that sustainability comes from them as well. We must “abide” in Jesus the Source, and be willing to be “pruned” by the Father, who is the Caretaker, in order to both survive and thrive (vs. 2-7). Then, finally, we see the purpose of bearing fruit. It is to glorify the Father (v. 8). A significant point made in this final verse is the way we glorify the Father; it is by bearing much fruit. It is also important to notice throughout these verses what happens to those who do not bear fruit!
The next natural question that follows is what fruit should we bear? For most of us who have studied God’s Word for any length of time, Galatians 5:22-23 should spring to mind. Here we are given a description of the fruit that can be found on any tree that is “powered” by the Holy Spirit. Powered by the Holy Spirit? What does that mean? Let me explain.
Every tree has sap. Sap is the life blood of a tree. Without getting too scientific here, a tree is grown and sustained by good soil, good water, and good light. Through a process called photosynthesis, with proper light on the leaves and a strong root system to pull water and nutrients from the soil, a tree receives its nourishment to become strong and healthy. But these nutrients are transported to all the branches of the tree by the sap. Without sap, there is no tree. It is also via the sap that fruit is developed and fed. God genetically designed fruit trees to push out leaves and fruit buds in the spring of each year.
In the example given above in John 15, Jesus used a vine to represent His role. Most likely, He was using this analogy since grape vines were prevalent in the region during that period. The listeners would have understood what He meant. Anyone who has seen a grape vineyard knows that a mature grape vine is more like a small tree than an actual vine that grows along the ground.
Though there are many similarities with fruit bearing vines such as squash, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, etc., that grow along the ground and produce their fruit there, it is important to note that the example He is using is that of a fruit bearing tree. It is significant because He talks about us in terms of being the tree branches as an extension of Him. As a result, the fruit, His fruit, is being brought to bear and “hanging” on us. If we are connected to Him as the tree, and the life blood of His Holy Spirit is the power that feeds us, then we as His branches will be loaded and weighted down with the “much fruit” spoken of in Galatians 5, which glorifies His Father and ours!
That takes my mind to these next questions. What purpose does fruit serve? Why does Jesus want us to bear much fruit, and how does that glorify our Father?
Fruit is used as a source of food for others, isn’t it? Do you suppose we are to be a source of Godly spiritual feeding for others who come into contact with us? When good fruit is eaten, it revives, refreshes, energizes, and is a delight to those who partake of it. Is that what we provide for others when they come into contact with us? Do people see us as His branches, and do they see His fruit hanging on those branches? Are we spoken of in terms of those who love and obey God in Psalm 1:1-3 and 92:13-14?
What kind of fruit is hanging on us as His branches? Do others come to us to “pick” and eat the fruit off of His tree and it brings light to their eyes because we provide succulent, ripe, tasty fruit?
Do we deceive ourselves by thinking we bear one kind of fruit when really we bear something else? Are we saying, “I am an apple tree branch!”? Yet those who come to us say, “That’s funny, all I see is a bunch of lemons hanging off these branches.” Do people come looking for one kind of fruit (kindness, goodness, gentleness, and love) but instead find fruit that is mildewed, withered, rotting, and riddled with deadly amounts of penicillin (accusation, anger, negativity, and bitterness)? Do they come looking for a ripe apple and only find a not-yet-ripened persimmon (spiritual immaturity)? Or, even worse, do they come to His tree and find no fruit at all? In other words, do we say we are Christians, but we don’t act like it? We need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk!
God says we are known by our fruit (Matthew 7:15-20). That means we are recognizable as one of His by Him and by others by the fruit we bear.
When I gave this information as a sermon, a lady came up to me afterwards and said, “You know another purpose for fruit is reproduction. It carries the seed for the next tree.” I was stunned that I hadn’t thought of that, but she was right! What a beautiful picture of how we carry the seed of the Father, and when we fully mature, we will be a reproduction of Him! I believe that in part is how we both glorify and magnify Him—by carrying the seed that reproduces Him to full maturity.
So the key to bearing good fruit is connectedness to Jesus Christ. It is by the sap of His Spirit freely flowing into us from Jesus, and a willingness to be pruned by our Father, that we will bear good fruit.
Let’s ask God to help us have good fruit hanging on His branches so as to provide enrichment for those who come into contact with us and fruit that will glorify Him!