Striving, laboring, toiling away in our lives trying to cultivate that fruit of the Spirit that Paul speaks of is a favorite pass time of Christians isn’t it? It has definitely been for me over the years. I, like many Christians, long to possess this fruit and to be more like Christ. But why do I want this fruit so badly?
That is an odd question isn’t it? I’m sure most would say the answer is quite obvious. But is it truly?
I have discovered the reason I desire this fruit so much and my motivation behind it is utterly wrong. I desire the fruit for my own gain, my own glory. To be shown approved among my brothers and sisters as a true disciple of Jesus. And not only has my motivation been wrong but also the way I have been pursuing my aims at growth.
If I am seeking to grow for my own glory, and the praise of men, then all my hard labor at growth is doomed from the beginning because all my fruit is exactly that, MY fruit. Allow me a moment to explain using words from Jesus.
John 15:5-8: “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to My disciples.”
By seeking glory for myself and trying to produce fruit for that aim my fruit, from my own personal efforts and labor, are dead and of no real value. This is something that Jesus has been showing to me. And note how He says the branch withers. Do you feel withered? Do you feel exhausted, tired or burned out? Our walk with Jesus is the way of rest not toil and exhaustion.
Matthew 11:28-30: ” Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
That’s just one of many scriptures that hint at the way of rest. Jesus is our rest.
How can we produce fruit by resting? That sounds too easy. That sounds lazy right? Like complacency am I right? What if I told you the way of rest, resting in Jesus, abiding or remaining in Jesus, was not complacency but the cure for it?
By resting in Jesus we produce fruit NATURALLY. Jesus is the vine and we the branches. Is it the branches work that keeps it leafy and full of fruit or is it the vine that is the root cause of the growth?
Allow me to share with you what I am learning to be true, albeit more slowly than I would like. You and I already have all we need to produce fruit for the rest of our lives. The secret isn’t in the amount of church functions we attend, the number of souls we bring to Jesus, the amount of hours spent in prayer, fasting and reading the word. These are all wonderful things but they do not bring life. Not even the scriptures bring life but can bring us closer to the source of life. They all testify about the one who does bring life. The true vine Jesus.
John 17:22-23,26:” I have given them the glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one. I AM IN THEM and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know you have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me. I made Your name known to them and will make it known, so the love You have loved Me with MAY BE IN THEN AND I MAY BE IN THEM.”(Emphasis Mine)
Jesus lives in us. We have all that we need to be fruitful, to grow in godliness.
Our walk isn’t about do this and don’t do that. You should do this and not do that. Our walk with Jesus is about discovering what we already possess. The things we should not do will fall away naturally when we walk with Jesus because we begin to realize those things no longer suit us. We are not that person anymore. Our true identity is found in Christ in us.
Have you ever witnessed the misery of a christian who is overcome by their sin? Have you ever seen how miserable a christian is that professes they do not believe in God anymore? I have been that christian. And let me tell you, I was in utter turmoil. I despaired of life itself. I couldn’t be content in my sin. Why? Because those things did not suit me anymore. As I have been walking with Jesus, growing in faith of who Jesus says I truly am, my vices and pet sins have slowly started to fall away. I’m not there yet but Jesus is setting me free. Christ in me, the hope of glory.
As Jesus said, apart from Him we can do nothing. We can bear no fruit. When we bear fruit it glorifies God because it is Jesus in us that produces that fruit. The way of rest is restful, but not easy. It is more difficult to rest in Jesus than to cultivate our own fruit. One way we can feel like WE are DOING something. Resting in Jesus is surrendering your spiritual growth to Him. Rest is, in essence, total dependence and unconditional trust in Him.
Did you notice in John where Jesus said when we Abide or remain we can ask whatever we want? Ask for the fruit. Ask for more gratitude toward our Father. Ask for more faith. Ask for more love. Ask for all the fruits. I won’t tell you they will magically appear but you will be put in situations and circumstances where you will grow. These circumstances can be trying and painful but we can still rejoice and be joyful because Jesus is working in us to help us discover what we already have, Christ in us. We grow as we begin to believe that more and more. Jesus becomes not only our Lord and Savior but our friend, the Lover of who we are with all our flaws, our Teacher. Our identity is rooted in the fellowship we have with Jesus.
If you are in despair brothers and sisters, you have all that you need for a life of godliness. Jesus. You have all that you need for abundant life. Jesus. If you are in misery because of the way you are living do not let hopelessness overcome you. You are miserable because those things that once gave you pleasure no longer suit you. They are not who you are anymore so they are empty. Look to Jesus the True Vine so He can show you who you really are and who He means you to be. You are meant to live a life that brings glory to our Father. To live in loving fellowship with Jesus and the Father. Ask Jesus to show you and He will.
Jesus, thank you so much for the gift of yourself. Thank you for living in us and offering Yourself so freely to us. To live in us, is there a more intimate and loving act? Jesus, help us to discover who we truly are in You. Show us the way of rest. Teach us to Abide in You the True Vine, the source of abundant life. Let us become truly dependant on You and trust You with our growth. Let us decrease as You increase through us. Let our lives be for the glory of our Father whose love lives in us, imperfect as we are. Your teachings are beautiful Jesus. Let them come alive in our hearts. In Your name we pray. Amen.
I love you brothers and sisters. I welcome any feedback good or bad. Be blessed. Abide.