If I were to ask those closest to you about the quality & quantity of the fruit in your life what do you think they would say? If I asked your spouse what would they say? What might they point to describe the fruitfulness of your life?
Jesus said that his followers would be marked by the fruitfulness and that fruitfulness would “prove” their authenticity as his disciple and bring much glory to the Father.
In John 15 verse 8 Jesus said: By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
What does it look like to bear much fruit?
Here are a few biblical categories of what “much fruit” could fall under:
Character (Fruit of the Spirit) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
Remember that Jesus said his followers would be marked and known by the their love. Outsiders can discern the true followers from the false by the fruit of love or the lack there of. Love is the overarching characteristic of a genuine follower of Jesus.
Jesus said: By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 ESV
Conduct (Good deeds)
Jesus commissioned his people to do good deeds to others (Matt. 5:16) so that people would give glory to the Father. Jesus himself did the ultimate good deed by dying for the sins of the world to redeem his own special people who are “zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). One of the Apostle Paul’s prayer petitions for the Colossian disciples was that they would be people “bearing fruit in every good work” (Colossians 1:10). Good deeds are the domino effect of the good news of Christ impacting a life.
Jesus said “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.” I believe Jesus had in mind the people who His own disciples would impact when he said “your fruit should abide”. He commissioned his followers to go and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them what he commanded (Matthew 28:20). The Apostle Paul wrote about the fruit of his own ministry to the Gentiles as an “offering” to God (Romans 15:16). Paul’s bearing much fruit was “to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed” (Romans 15:18).
Conversation (Fruit of Lips)
The way we speak to God in singing praise and giving thanks is the fruit of our lips (Hebrews 13:15). Our speaking about God to others is the fruit of our lips.
Jesus spoke about the things we say from our mouths as the fruit of our lives in Matthew chapter 12, when he was giving a heavy rebuke to the Pharisees. He said:
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37 ESV
Two Mischievous Brothers
I heard about two brothers that were mischievously sneaking out at night time and roaming the town doing things that they shouldn’t be doing. To do this without their parents knowing they would climb out of their window on the 2nd floor of their home and use a tree next to their house going up and down to sneak out. One day they over heard their parents talking about removing the tree from their yard because it seemed useless. The boys didn’t want their secret aid for sneaking out to be removed so they decided to purchase some apples from the grocery store and attach them to the tree with yarn in hopes that their parents would keep the tree. Not long after that their parents looked out at the tree one morning and saw apples on the tree and they were amazed. The father said to their mother “thats not an apple tree it’s a peach tree”.
A Christian’s fruitfulness isn’t merely a transplant of fruit or an attachment of busyness to their lives. Fruit is the result of being genuinely connected to Christ, possessing his divine life within. Fruit flows from the inside to the outside of a Christian. And the sap that nourishes the Christian is the grace of God.
God doesn’t call Christians to muster up fruit independently of His Son. He calls us to lean into His grace through abiding in His word and prayer. Recognize that Jesus is the source of your fruitfulness and your inability to produce any fruit independently of him. Do you really believe that apart from him you can do nothing? And do you really believe that if you abide in him you will bear much fruit (John 15:5)?
Jesus is the source of our life so our connection to Him is vital to produce any good fruit.