“I am the true Vine, and My Father is the Gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit…” (Jesus – John 15:1-2)
We cannot avoid this topic. Jesus is not always soft words and velvet promises. Sometimes He reminds us that there are consequences for errors in our thinking.
This passage is a warning about one of those times.
What strikes me about this passage, is two things: 1) Just how strongly God feels about fruitfulness; and 2) How it is possible to be connected to Jesus, but ignore the privilege of our responsibility to Him (to bear fruit).
Let’s talk about these things…
First, God and fruitfulness. In case you may not have noticed, God is not into show. A pretty package is wonderful, but not if the package is empty. With God, it is never our appearance on the outside that matters to Him (all that can be faked), what matters is on the inside. The inside is revealed by the fruit produced (or a lack thereof). God is not looking for plants with lovely leaves… He is desiring fruit from us.
Two illustrations come to mind about how God feels about fruit and fruitfulness.
Matthew 21:18-19 tells the story of Jesus cursing the fig tree. In short, Jesus was hungry, saw a fig tree in the distance, and went to eat some of its fruit. When He got there, there was nothing on the tree but leaves. Jesus cursed the tree and, Matthew says, it withered immediately.
Why would Jesus react in such an abrupt way? It’s fairly simple. The fig tree gave the appearance of health and vitality but was all show. Fig trees exist to give us figs. This fig tree produced only leaves, not fruit. It was not fulfilling its purpose.
And Jesus gives us a vivid picture of how God feels about unfruitfulness.
A second illustration verifies our findings. In Luke 13:6-9, Jesus told the parable of the gardener and the fig tree (what is it with figs??). A gardener planted a fig tree in his vineyard, but after three years, it had not produced one fig. The gardener’s response: “Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?”
Once again, we have a clear illustration of how God feels about unfruitfulness.
So how is it possible to be connected to Jesus (Jn. 15:2) and yet not be fruitful?
It is very easy for any of us to connect to Jesus ONLY for what He gives us. We love Jesus. We want and need what Jesus gives us. We like what we receive from Him. If we are not very careful we can forget the most important of principles…
God gives to us, not only for our benefit, but also for the benefit of those around us. More importantly, God gives to us so we may have something to give to others. When we are only “on the take” what God gives… stops with us.
Someone has said, “We are not a cup, we are a conduit.”
This means that what God gives us is meant to flow out through us to other people. Simply put: Being a cup is self-centered. Being a conduit is others-centered. In truth, love is always others-centered.
God has no problem loving us and giving us good things… He just doesn’t want that love and those good things to stop with us.
Fruit is God at work in us… and through us. We receive from Him in order to have something to give. And when we give what we have received… fruit is the product.
Prayer Focus: God, make me aware of my fruitfulness… that I may be truly pleasing to You, by giving freely what I have received from You.