If you missed the Intro post in this series, be sure to read it. It will provide more context around this series.
Jesus gives 6 very clear statements about being one of His followers or disciples. These are not requirements for salvation or forgiveness; rather they are conditions or evidences of being His disciple.
- Mark of Discipleship #1 Hate
- Mark of Discipleship #2 Suffer
- Mark of Discipleship #3 Forsake
- Mark of Discipleship #4 Abide
- Mark of Discipleship #5 Love
Ask any farmer what he hopes to accomplish with his trade, and he will surely reply, “Produce a large harvest.” In other words…Bear Fruit. This metaphor is filled with teachable lessons for the Christian. Perhaps this is why Jesus returns to this imagery often as He instructed His followers.
“By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” John 15:8 NASB
In the beginning, God chose to test and teach His creation. He used: Forbidden Fruit
God had Joseph bring his family to Egypt to build a nation. He used: Lack of Fruit (famine)
God promised to give His people a Promised Land flowing with milk & honey: Abundant Fruit
Isaiah prophesied of a Tender Plant that would sprout in dry ground: Promised Fruit
Jesus refers to seeds that fall on various soils and some take root: Stable Fruit
Paul refers to the results of living in the Spirit: Spiritual Fruit (Fruit of the Spirit)
Jesus says that a Mark of Discipleship is: Bearing Fruit
Bearing fruit is the final achievement in growing in our relationship with Christ.
- It marks a separation from the old – Hate for the old relations compared to our love for God (Mark #1)
- It demonstrates a willingness to endure hardships – Suffer for the cause of Christ (Mark #2)
- It identifies a desire to let go – Forsake our claim to possessions (Mark #3)
- It illustrates a passion for persistent growing – Continue in our becoming more like Christ (Mark #4)
- It proves a yearning to care for fellow believers – Love one another as Christ loves us (Mark #5)
If we are to bear fruit, we must understand what Christ plans to do to produce this fruit. The first step is Pruning. Grape vines are pruned in this manner:
Tips on Pruning Grapes:
- Grape vines only start producing fruit on one-year old wood.
- Grape vines should be allowed to grow in any direction the first year they are in the ground. Having abundant stems and leaves will help develop a strong root system on immature grape vines. No pruning at all for the first year
- Select the strongest and most vigorous-looking stem during the winter of the first year. Remove all the other stems at the base of the plant or as close to the trunk on the main stem as possible.
Jesus is so smart! The parallels He draws between grape vines and Christians are astounding!
Tips on Pruning Christians:
- Young Christians may be more easily “pruned” than ‘old’ Christians
- Have patience w/ baby Christians; there will be lots of time to prune after a little growth makes them stronger. Let them grow a little before you worry about pruning.
- Finding and building on strengths & gifts will encourage the right growth
The next step is Growing. With all of these metaphors, it is easy to lose the simple fact – God wants us to grow and change. He never intended for us to stay the same as we were when we first became Christians. So here is the question for of all of us: Have you grown/changed in the last year as a Christ-follower? Wait a minute…don’t answer too quickly. We are talking Fruit: Are you more Loving, more Joyful, more filled with Peace, more Patient, Kinder, Gooder (you know what I mean!), more Faithful, Gentler, show more Self-Control (Galatians 5:22-23)? If the answer it not “Yes” to all of these, then we may have some pruning in our future. Jesus said that if we Abide in Him, we WILL bear fruit. If not, we are purged and burned.
This is not an easy or comfortable process. This is the image that Jesus is trying to get across with the pruning of the vine. He intends to make us more presentable to His Father and that takes time and pain. The next time you are in mourning, sad, disappointed, discouraged, feeling lost and alone; ask yourself, “Is God using this situation to prune away the dead wood? Is He moving me closer to producing fruit or much fruit?” We may not like the answer but we will love the result because it is His result – His Fruit!
I pray that you bear fruit; not just a some fruit, but Much Fruit (John 15:2-5).
OPEN MIC: SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
- Has God chosen to “prune” something from your life that made you uncomfortable or angry? How did you grow through the process?
- What Fruit did you develop as a result of God’s pruning?