“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”
The Bible is clear that God’s intent for all people is to bear fruit. We use the term “to bear fruit” to refer to being productive- harnessing gifts, using our skills, growing career-wise, building healthy relationships, serving in a ministry and so on. John 15:4 gives us a clear directive if we want to keep with this command- we are to abide in Christ.
I’ve come to realize one thing about fruits that has greatly affected my view of productivity. The fruit is not for the benefit of the tree. You’ll never see a tree eat it’s own fruit. That would be weird (and scary) to watch. Imagine seeing a tree pick it’s own fruit and eat it.
Yet how many people- even Christians- do we see today “eat their own fruit?” They serve in ministry for recognition, they cheat systems to go through it faster, they step on relationships to get promoted and they go into ventures for the primary reason of feeding greed.
Fruits were not meant for the benefit of the tree in the same way our fruits were not meant for our benefit. They were meant for the benefit of others. Talking about the fruit of the Spirit, rarely do we directly benefit from things like love, joy, patience, kindness or gentleness. It’s usually others that do.
So as “trees” for God, how then do we meet our needs? The task for us is not to keep our eyes on the fruits, but keep watch over our roots. Where are you rooted upon? When we are rooted on career, opinions of others, earthly treasures, or corporate success, we are rooted on terribly unreliable soil. But Psalms 1:1-3 reminds us of this:
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.”
To be rooted on the delight of God’s laws and ways is to be rooted in a source that never runs dry. And as God promises, a tree rooted on Him will always receive three promises: more fruit for others around you to enjoy, protection from withering and prosperity.