One of the things that the Lord Jesus Christ desires to see produced in our lives is fruit. He has not called us as his disciples to be fruitless in our efforts to serve Him. We were considering a few weeks ago the difference between the purging hand of God and the pruning hand of God. All of the pruning that takes place is for the purpose of producing “much fruit”. In John 15 we read-“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples”, (v.5,8 NIV). Jesus’s desire is not that we simply bear a little fruit. He desires that when we come before him at the Bema judgment seat on the other side of eternity that we will bring a bushel full of fruits that we have earned for the glory of God. In fact “much fruit” is a sign of true discipleship and it implies progress and growth. Living a fruitful Christ-like life brings glory to God and proves that we are His true disciples. Jesus is most interested in the glory of the heavenly Father and when our prayers are in accordance with the Word of God and the will of God He promises to abundantly supply. It is God’s desire that we try great things when the Holy Spirit has free access into our hearts to control our lives. Great faith produces much fruit while a lack of faith bears little fruit and dishonors our heavenly Father who has provided in abundance for us. When the branch bears fruit it carries out the purpose for which God intended it. Fruit is the natural outcome of faithful followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must stay attached to the vine, the Lord Jesus Christ, if we are going to produce any fruit for eternity. God is truly glorified when you and I produce “much fruit”.
So what does fruit look like in the Christian life? I believe there are a lot of things that we can be involved in that are fruit bearing ministries. We have several coming up in the next couple weeks here at New Durham Chapel, that would include the Angel tree ministry and our Christmas nativity presentation next weekend. But I also believe both Peter and Paul give us some ideas of personal fruit that God desires to produce in us. Paul in his writing in the fifth chapter of Galatians is contrasting the deeds of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit. He writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”, (v.22,23 NIV). Here are nine things that are listed that are truly the fruit of allowing God’s Spirit to work and move in our hearts and lives. That’s why they are called “the fruit of the Spirit”. Peter gives us a similar list in the first chapter of his second epistle. Peter writes, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and nonproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (v.5-8 NIV). Peter’s list concludes with the comment that these things should be increasing in measure in our spiritual walk with the Lord Jesus Christ and will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Again it is God’s desire to see these things being produced in our lives in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus walked in the Father’s commandments and He expects us to walk in the commandments that He has left us. The obedient spirit of true discipleship involves the continued increase of Christ’s love and activity in the heart of the true disciple. Love in scriptural terms is an action, not an emotion. Obedience on the part of the believer assures our fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. So we have two lists that I believe give us the personal characteristics of fruit bearing in our following the Lord Jesus Christ. We know as we saw in John’s Gospel that it is Jesus’s desire that you and I produce “much fruit”. How do we begin to produce much fruit? By stepping outside of our comfort zone and allowing God to produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives and then also seeing how the things that Peter said are connected to our spiritual growth and fruit bearing. It is my prayer that this Christmas season will see us producing “much fruit” for God’s glory, not only in our individual lives but also as a church here at NDC. Let’s pray this Christmas for an abundance of fruit as we serve Christ together!
To God be the glory, Pastor Rich Sivo