7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. - John 15:7-8
In these verses, we read if we abide in Him, and His words abide in us, we can grab a hold of one of the greatest promises in scripture because our wills will be aligned with His ~ ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. As we read on, we see there is more for us in the promises of these verses. We will also glorify Him by bearing much fruit and proving to be His disciples.
Bearing fruit refers to the outward actions that come from the inward condition of the heart. In other words, it’s how we behave because of what we’re carrying around in our hearts. We can find a list of the fruits of the Spirits in Galatians 5:22-23 ~ love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Whew. Typing that list out makes me abundantly aware of how I need to grow in each and everyone of those fruits. I want those words to be the words people use to describe me, but just looking at them, I know I fail so often in living them out in my life. I know I am growing in each of them - I am not who I once was, but I know I am not who I could be either.
When I am not bearing fruit, or exhibiting the behavior, it’s because of the inward condition of my heart. Somewhere, I am struggling with fear or anxiety, or perhaps there is a lack of forgiveness lingering or a fear of man controlling my thoughts, or I could just be struggling with a critical spirit or a superiority complex. Each of those internal struggles will surface at some point and prevent me from displaying the fruit of the Spirit. For example, if I am struggling to forgive you for something you said last week to me, I’m going to be far less patient with you than if I had worked to forgive the offense.
As explained in this passage, a branch draws its strength and nutrients from the vine, and if broken, it quickly dies and becomes unfruitful. When we neglect our relationship with God, we are like those branches broken off from the vine. We stop bearing fruit in our lives because our hearts are no longer being tenderized by the Spirit, so our behavior becomes more self-focused. We must remain connected to Him for our lives to bear fruit. If we want to be more loving, more joyful, more peaceful people, if we want to be considered patient, kind, good, faithful and self- controlled, we need to abide in Him and allow Him to abide in us. We need to allow Him to reveal the condition of our hearts to us.
It’s important to note in this passage about the vine and the branches, that the vine dresser prunes, or removed, the branches that do not bear fruit. In other words, if there is an area of your life that you are not exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit, you can expect to experience some consequences. He will cut away and throw into the fire the branches that do not bear fruit. Knowing this always causes me to pause when I’m engaged in a difficult situation or relationship. Our tendency is to point the finger of blame in the other direction, but if we’re experiencing difficulties, we must be open to the idea that some of what we are experiencing are consequences from our behavior or the condition of our hearts. To be honest, even in those situations where the greater amount of fault lies with the other person, there is always a place that I can find where I did not bear fruit. Remember, we should still be the most loving, patient, grace-filled people despite our circumstances. Dealing with a difficult person or situation does not give us a pass. If we’re carrying around a lack of forgiveness, a sense of self-righteousness, an air of superiority, or a lack of humility in our hearts, it will be evident in our responses to others - even when they are primarily at fault. When we are not bearing fruit, God will reveal what in our hearts to us through those difficult situations if we’re listening.
The truth is God is the judge of our heart and our motives. Even when we hide it from others, even when we deny it to ourselves, He knows. As I have said before, I’ve been given the gift of time in this diagnosis...time to reflect on the state of my heart and where I still need to grow. I’m thankful for the way He continues to reveal the places I am not bearing fruit. Though I am getting anxious to get back to the typical flow of my day, the time I have had to reflect on the condition of my heart has been priceless.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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