If you’ve been going to church for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard of the phrase “bearing fruit.” People who use this phrase are usually referencing Galatians 5:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23 NAS).
I used to think that bearing fruit was something only the most spiritually-minded people could do. That’s because it seemed like only the grandmas and grandpas of the church could adequately display these fruits, such as kindness in traffic jams, patience in line at the store, and peace when everything seems to be falling apart.
And yet, as I study the concept of bearing fruit for my book Girls with Gusto, I realize that I’ve been mistaken.
The Image of the Vine
In John 15:1-5, Jesus used the image of the grape vine to describe our relationship to Him and the Father:
- Jesus is the True Vine
- God the Father is the Vinedresser (or vine gardener)
- God’s people are the branches of the Vine
He then says, “He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5b NAS).
This makes more sense when you understand the structure of grape vines. The grape bunches that you buy at the grocery store are cut from branches, which are connected to a vine. Although the branches produce the grapes, they cannot live on their own. Instead, they are dependent on the vine, which is the life source of the entire plant structure.
We rely on Jesus just as the branches rely on the vine to survive and produce grapes. As we tap into Jesus, we begin to access His essence of pure love. As we experience more of God’s love, we begin to overflow with it and all the fruits of the Spirit that derive from it.
This means that all believers—each and every one of us—can display the fruits of the Spirit.
A Fruitful Expectation
Jesus also explained, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, [the Father] takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2 NAS).
This shows that, not only are we able to bear fruit, we are expected to do so. If we don’t, it is a sign that we are not actually connected to the Vine of Jesus. However, when we do bear fruit, we give evidence of that God’s holy nature is alive within us. He then refines us so that we can bear even more fruit. Perhaps this is why we prove ourselves to be disciples of Jesus, and we glorify God the Father, when we “bear much fruit” (John 15:8 NAS).
Evidence and Opportunities
On one hand, “bearing fruit” is the evidence of our relationship with God; on the other, it is the opportunity to receive and share in the love of God.
A great example of this is the story of Joseph in Genesis chapters 37-50. After his brothers sold him into slavery, Joseph was accused of a crime he didn’t commit, and he ended up in an Egyptian dungeon. Even so, Joseph remembered his God. Perhaps that’s why God used Joseph to warn the pharaoh of a pending famine. Joseph heeded the opportunity, and his leadership and good stewardship saved countless lives, including those of his own family. Then, when he could have turned his back on the brothers that did him wrong, Joseph chose a better path. He took the opportunity to display mercy, forgiveness, and love.
Throughout his entire story, Joseph took every opportunity to do God’s will, and his character was filled with the fruits of the Spirit. Although we think of Joseph as a spiritual giant, we are expected to display these very same fruits of the Spirit in our own lives. Likewise, our opportunities to serve God may seem less important than Joseph’s mission to save the kingdom, but we should treat them with the same respect and gusto that Joseph exemplified.
I encourage you to examine your own life. Does your character and your actions give evidence that God is alive in your heart? Are you seizing the opportunities God sets before you? If not, take a moment to get back on track by saying a simple prayer like this one:
“Lord, I’m sorry. I’ve missed the opportunities you’ve given me, and I don’t really see the fruits of the Spirit in my life. Please clean my heart and help me to focus on you. In your grace, give me more opportunities to serve you. Help me to hear your guiding voice, and give me the strength and courage to act accordingly. Thank you in the name of Jesus. Amen.”
Has someone affected your life by bearing the fruits of the Spirit? If so, I’d love to hear about it! Please leave a comment below or on my Facebook page.