Millions of years ago at the dawn of time something miraculous happened. God put down his paintbrush, took a look at all He had created and decided that there was one thing missing. Out of the dust He formed His final masterpiece. This specimen was more regal and majestic than anything else He had made thus far. In His own image perfection was born with inner workings so complex and mysterious that generations to come would marvel in wonder. He stood back, breathed a contented sigh, and gave His first command. “Be fruitful and multiply.”
Centuries of progress and ingenuity later, humanity is still called to make the same commitment. The Lord has asked each of us be fruitful. When really explored in its fullness, this is actually an explicit command with many meanings. To understand it better, we must examine the words “fruit” and “fruitful”.
We already know that fruit is a good treat on a summer day. It is healthy, full of vitamins and minerals, and usually sweet to the taste. It is edifying to the body and comes from a seed. What we often forget is that it is also an attribute of love. Galatians 5:22 explains further.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
Webster’s dictionary defines fruitful as yielding or producing fruit or very productive, yielding results. We have been commanded to be productive in our Christian walk. We were created to produce acts of love, which are evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus reminds us in John 15:1-4 that we are incapable of producing results apart from Him. When He spoke to the disciples, He said, “He 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. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. We cannot be productive unless we remain in Him. The scary thing is that there are many people who claim to live in Him but are not producing results. They wander in a cloud of darkness feasting on the desires of their flesh, not knowing that the Lord is asking more of them. In essence, they are carrying around a basket full of onions. Being an active Christian (being productive) is a full time job. It requires commitment, sacrifice, and long, painful hours. It demands that we give more than we think we have, take more of Him than we are willing to take, and receive more persecution than we think we are able to handle. It is an exhausting and often heartbreaking journey. Yet, it is in the pain where real results are manifested and we are promised that we do not walk it alone and that every need will be supplied.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
“I am the true vine... He cuts off every branch in me that is not very productive, while every branch that does bring results, he prunes so that it will be even more productive…Remain in me and I will remain in you. No branch can be productive by itself. It must remain in the vine. Neither can you bring results unless you remain in me.
The wonderful thing about being fruitful is that we get to share our bounty with others. Because we are all so uniquely made, we are a decadent smorgasbord of color and taste to the world around us. We can brighten somebody’s day simply by using the gifts that our Father gave us. Somehow, it is in using our talents and abilities that it becomes easier to travel this journey. Sharing our fruit not only produces results in the kingdom of heaven, it is healthy for us as individuals. Depression is vanquished because we chose to bring joy to our church body with our musical talent. Anger is diminished because we arrived with kindness instead of an unforgiving heart. Discord can flee because we handpicked a ripe, juicy bushel of self-control.
We have entered a brand new year with brand new possibilities. We have been given a glorious opportunity to be productive, useful, and needed in the kingdom of heaven. Let us remain in the True Vine, yielding lasting results that are edifying, sweet, and healthy to the world around us. In so doing we have a chance to make more disciples who can share the love of Christ to a hurting, bitter world.