Recognising the fruit that God produces in us
Jesus compared genuine believers to branches that are grafted into Him so that they bear His good fruit. He therefore warned that without Him, we can do nothing. In fact, any branch that is not grafted in will be thrown into the fire to be burned. What sort of fruit was Jesus referring to and how do we recognise if we are bearing His good fruit?
John 15:5-8 ESV I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
The fruit of God in our lives
The Bible gives us a good indication of the type of fruit that God produces in us.
- Good fruit of God’s light — a life that produces what is good, right, and true | Ephesians 5:8-9 ESV For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),
- Good fruit of obeying God’s commandment — love for another | John 15:12,16-17 ESV “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you… go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
- Good fruit of God’s wisdom — wisdom that is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, merciful, impartial and sincere | James 3:17 ESV But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
- Good fruit of the Holy Spirit — the presence of the Holy Spirit who brings love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control | Galatians 5:22-23 ESV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
- Good fruit of God’s discipline — holiness and righteousness that is peaceful and good | Hebrews 12:10-11 ESV For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
- Good fruit of knowing and conviction about God’s will — a life that is pleasing to God, filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding | Colossians 1:9-10 ESV … you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
- Good fruit of God’s righteousness — love, knowledge, and discernment that ensures our hearts remain pure and blameless before God | Philippians 1:9-11 ESV And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
- Good fruit of becoming “slaves” of God’s righteousness, set free from the bondage of sin — sanctification and eternal life | Romans 6:22 ESV But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.
This good fruit is birthed from within us, through the Holy Spirit’s regeneration and renewal work in our hearts, minds, and souls. Only God can make such fruit grow in us.
Titus 3:5-7 ESV he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
1 Corinthians 3:7 ESV So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
On our part, we need to maintain an honest and pure heart that abides in, or remains grafted to, Jesus so we continue to be nourished and protected.
Luke 8:15 ESV As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
Abiding in Jesus Christ
The act of grafting attaches a branch that has been carefully cut from a weak tree and fitted into a branch of another tree with strong, robust roots. The grafted branch is held tightly in place for a period of time until it bonds with the tree and becomes one with it. As it receives nourishment from its new roots and is pruned by an experienced gardener, it will bear an abundance of fruit, bursting with rich nutrients and flavour.
John 15:2 ESV … every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
The tree that receives the new grafted branch suffers momentary damage because it loses a healthy branch in order to receive the new one and shares its resources with it.
This is the act of abiding in Jesus — staying loyal to and holding on tightly to Him so that we are nourished by Him. Jesus also paid a price for each one of us to be grafted in and He shares His inheritance with us. At the same time, He also corrects and shapes us to become more like Him. Such pruning does not always feel pleasant but it always bears “the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Hebrews 12:10-11 ESV … he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
This is a picture of us becoming one with Jesus in our hearts, so that we desire what Jesus desires and that is to do our Heavenly Father’s will.
John 6:38,40 ESV For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Not all grafts, however, are successful. The attempted union can be broken off or destroyed by bacteria or disease. Un-diseased branches can sometimes be successfully re-attached if they remain tender, but calloused hardened branches can only be discarded.
Ephesians 4:18-19 ESV They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul gave us another picture of grafting. He described Gentile (non-Jewish) believers as branches from a wild olive tree that now receive rich nourishment from God’s special olive tree.
Romans 11:17 NLT And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree.
Paul warned us to not be complacent about abiding in Jesus because God can decide to break us off, if our hearts stop trusting and obeying Him. We will slowly wither and die off, even if we were once alive in Him and bore some fruit in the past. It is therefore important that we regularly check if our graft into Jesus is still alive and well or is in any danger of coming apart.
Romans 11:20-22 NLT Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t spare you either… But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off.
What affects our graft into Jesus
When our hearts are not fully grafted into Jesus’, we experience fruitlessness, immature fruit, and fruits for death. This happens because we are still:
- Satisfied only by our own desires | Jude 1:12,16 ESV … shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; These people are grumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They brag loudly about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want.
- Caught up with the cares of this world | Luke 8:14-15 ESV And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
- Seduced by worldly riches | Luke 8:14-15 ESV And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
- Intoxicated with the pleasures of life | Luke 8:14-15 ESV And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
- Led by sinful desires eg. revenge, hatred, judgment, condemnation etc. | Romans 7:5 ESV For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.
These are the things that will tear us apart from Jesus.
Staying grafted in
The good news is that we can ask God to search our hearts and convict us when we are in danger of diverging from His will and losing His nourishment. This calls for tender humble hearts that are willing to re-bind to Jesus.
Psalm 139:23-24 ESV Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
God will always welcome us as we:
- Repent of our sins | Matthew 3:8 ESV Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.
- Turn away from a life defined by this world | John 12:24-25 ESV Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
- Grow in knowing and discerning God’s will for us | Philippians 1:9-11 ESV And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
- Seek to live out God’s Word with the right understanding | Matthew 13:23 ESV As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
God the Father is the perfect vinedresser and He will guide us continually, watering us when we feel dry and restoring our strength. This is how we can remain part of His well-watered and flourishing garden that bears numerous good and tasting fruits.
John 15:1 ESV “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
Isaiah 58:11 ESV And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
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