Links Daily Devotional

Bearing Good Fruit

“Remain 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.” (John 15:4, NIV)

One of my favorite chapters in the book of John is when Jesus teaches his disciples through vineyard language to show them the relationship between God, himself, and his followers (us), which is found in John 15. They would have understood this word picture very clearly because in those days a grapevine grew along the ground, unlike modern vineyards of today. It was on my first trip to the Holy Land, while in Jordan, when I saw this type of grapevine and the teaching jumped off the page with a new and tangible truth for me.

A few years ago I wrote for this devotional about how the gardener would lift a branch up out of the dirt and how the act of pruning was essential for healthy grapes. As I re-read Jesus’ words now, I find my heart wondering two questions: What does Jesus want? And, why do we need to bear fruit?

Jesus wants fruit for the purpose of glorifying the Father and to prove we are his disciples (John 15:8). Fruit is the product of a healthy branch (us), one that is connected to the vine (Jesus). Jesus says, “Thus you will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:20 ESV). The fruit we offer to the world is our actions and our deeds, the way we live and act. It can be either good or bad fruit. The fruit of the spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—is the good fruit available to flow out of our hearts and souls when we are in a growing love relationship with Jesus.

Jesus himself desires to bear fruit, but he can only do so through you and me. It’s the branches from the grapevine that produce the actual grapes, not the vine itself. Jesus needs our hands, feet, and voices to be the reflection of his fruit on this side of heaven.

It’s mid-January and there have been a lot of words spoken about resolutions and goals for the year ahead. We tend to start off with renewed determination to do great things: get fit and eat healthy, spend more time with family, get out of debt, learn something new, attend Bible study regularly, and even play better golf. These are all wonderful things to focus on doing, but I wonder if there is something more for us in 2015?

An important word repeated four times in today’s verse is remain. The Greek word Jesus used was meno, and it means to abide, be present, to stay in relation, to endure. In other words, before we can do great things we must be in relationship with Jesus. The nourishment to produce good fruit begins when we slow down to be present with the Lord every day. Study his Word for instruction, yes. Sit quietly listening for the Lord to speak into our hearts, yes. Share our thoughts and feelings with the Lord, yes. Pray, yes. Doing relationship is about checking things off a list. Being in relationship with Jesus welcomes him into the day as naturally as the air we breathe.

Along with spending time with Jesus, it’s important to stay connected in community. It’s within community (church, small groups, circle of friends, family) that we are able to encourage one another through all that life offers us, the good and the hard.

As a single woman, I find myself alone often. My internal struggle to avoid feeling lonely is to get busy. I get my to-do list out and bounce from one project to the next. This may get things done, but it’s not helpful for my heart. I become less present in my relationships and my fruit shrivels up like a dried raisin. Choosing relationship with Jesus along with community feels hard at times, and it means saying no to good things in order to say yes to what is better in order to bear good fruit for Jesus.

Tracy Hanson
January 15, 2015
Copyright 2015 Links Players International
The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.