To begin, I want to thank jimout2002a for the suggestion to include John 8:32 in this series. It was not until I sat down and studied the verse that I realized that it connected beautifully to the verses that I had planned to do for this post. So, let us dig in. I want to begin by showing you John 15:1-5. Jesus says,
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He 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. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain 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. 5I 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.”
Jesus provides us with a fantastic allegory that demonstrates what happens with those who are close to God and those who are not. Verse one, informs readers that Jesus is the “true vine.” With natural plants, if there is no connection to the source of life, leaves, flowers, and fruit cannot grow. The same is true for us with Jesus Christ. We can embrace the true source of life Jesus gives us or we can choose not to do so. Consequently, if we choose not to, God, the gardener, “cuts off every branch in [Jesus] that bears no fruit.”
Even though the first half of verse two could be viewed as a reference to non-believers, I want to add that it can apply to what happens when a believer does not bear fruit. One might argue that God does not cut off anyone who believes in His Son; that is correct anyone who believes that Jesus Christ died for his or her sins is saved and will one day leave this earth and enter heaven to be with God. What I am referring to is the kind of life that the believer leads WHILE ON EARTH. Notice in the second half of verse two Jesus says, “every branch that does bear fruit [God] prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” One definition of the word prune is “[to] remove something considered unnecessary or unwanted.” As I read the verse and the definition of prune, the words that came to mind were transformation and growth. Let me say it this way, God wants to transform us and in that transformation, we grow and become the people that He has called us to be.
Now that is not to say that one moment we accept Jesus Christ and the next, we have completely let go of past hurt that we have experienced in our lives. Transformation IS A PROCESS. Some of the transformation will happen as God works one on one with you—just you and Him; some will happen as you connect with other believers and grow with them, for “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27:17). Growing with other believers might happen by doing a Bible study together and praying together.
Leadership is another part of transformation. This might occur AFTER God has DELIVERED you from the greatest pain you went through. For example, God placed in your heart to mentor someone who struggles with something you struggled with; however, you do not feel equipped to do so because God just delivered you from that struggle, and you still are not where you want to be. First, you will always be a work in progress as long as you are on this earth. Second, if God placed this desire in your heart; and, there is someone in your life who needs mentorship it may mean that God is telling you this is the time for you to be an encouragement and to share your story of how far you’ve come because of God. If you are not sure if this desire is from God, pray and ask those who know you well (and who are further along in their relationship with God) and see if they believe that this desire is from God. If the desire comes from God, the third thing that you need to know is as you mentor that person, God will use your story to help that person grow in their relationship with God just as God will continue to transform you. What God requires of you is to take a step in faith and trust in Him.
What happens if we choose not to allow God to do everything that He wants to do in us? What if we cannot let go of the pain of the past; what if we allow the negative words spoken over us or the negative thoughts spoken to ourselves keep us from fulfilling our purpose? Unfortunately, the specific gifts, which God tailored to each of us—so that we could use those abilities to reach non-believers on this earth and point them to God— will not be used the way that God intended.
This applies to those that are closest to us such as friends and family as well. How can God use us to draw non-believers to God or believers closer to God if the fruit those closest to us see in our day-to-day lives does not point them to God? The fruit we are supposed to bear as Christians in our everyday lives is found in Galatians 5:22-23. Paul says,
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
Peace and patience are fruit of the Spirit that God is working on within me. I see the difference in those areas compared to three years ago; still, I recognize that there needs to be more. Even so, we ALL must remember what Jesus says in John 15:5: “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit…” In the process for plants and their growth, a plant needs water every day in order to survive, in order to grow, in order to thrive. Without water, it wilts and eventually dies.
For us, if we truly desire to “remain in [God/Jesus],” Jesus states clearly how in John 8:31-32:
Jesus said to the people who believed in him, ‘You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”
What does it mean to be faithful to his teachings? We must read God’s Word every day, listen and do what God tells us to do every day. When we do those things, then verse thirty-two occurs; God will give us INSIGHT into His word. In addition, because we remain faithful and remain close to God, He will give us the ability to let go of things that have happened in our past, and he will give us the ability to let go of bad habits. Moreover, our hearts will be focused on what God is focused on, and our desires will be to do what God created us to do.
PLEASE KNOW that even though there may be millions of others that have a passion for the same career that you have, you will not influence the same group of people. Your gifts will affect those God has put around you whether it is your family, your friends, your co-workers, your clients, your patients, your students, your readers, etc. There is no need to be envious of another who seems to have more influence than you do. God placed you where you are in order to be a blessing. Ask God to show you ways to use your gifts to be a blessing to those around you. Once you do use your gifts to be a blessing, you will be demonstrating God’s love for that person.
What Has God Revealed to You in John 15:1-5?
How about John 8:31-32?
Is God Working on Certain Parts of the Fruit of the Spirit in You? Which Ones?
Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
All Bible verses are from Holy Bible: New International Version and New Living Translation