What Does It Mean to Bear Much Fruit?Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
"I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing … My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."
Jesus teaches that we are to bear fruit. Theologians debate what he meant by this. Is Jesus speaking evangelistically? Do we bear fruit by bringing people to Jesus? Is the fruit what Paul is describing when he writes,
… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. (Gal. 5:22-23)
Jesus is clear about one thing: our lives should glorify God. "Glory" comes from the root word meaning “weight.” Wherever we are in life, in whatever we do, we are to give God the greatest weight.
Toni Anzenberger was working as a young landscape photographer. In his travels, he adopted a spotted puppy with black ears. He named him Pecorino. He started taking the dog on photo assignments, and Pecorino developed the habit of running into the picture. It was annoying at first, but gradually Toni realized that the dog added a strange new character to the photos. The dog made the photos come alive. So Toni began photographing the dog everywhere—in both ordinary and extraordinary places—by the Leaning Tower of Pisa, at the base of the Eiffel Tower, on a window sill in Sicily, on a double-decker bus in London, and on and on. (You can see samples of these photos in the March 2006 edition of Smithsonian Magazine.) Toni and Pecorino have become famous. They live in Vienna where the dog has been photographed so often he is recognized on the street. Toni made a point to keep the dog in the picture. In this way, Toni gives Pecorino the glory.
We don’t easily understand God’s purposes for our lives, so we often try to keep him out. But God is inescapable (Psalm 139). Thankfully, we can make a shift. Look for God in the picture, and our lives become more and more fruitful. Recognizing God makes moments come alive and requires a response. We may express deep feelings of gratitude, conviction, and dismay. We may accept a call to service and sacrifice. The response we give to recognizing God-in-the-moment is the fruit we bear.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When do you have trouble recognizing God’s presence? Do you ever wish God were not always present? How does a moment change for you when God comes alive in it?
PRAYER: Lord God, make me more sensitive to your presence in my life and more determined to respond. I desire to give you more weight in every moment of my life and so bear the fruit that you desire. Amen.