What Does It Mean To Be A ‘Fruitful Christian’?
By Fin Sheridan
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
As I was reading these familiar verses the other day, I stopped to ask myself a question that had never occurred to me before: What is the “fruit” that Jesus is talking about here? He’s using an analogy – He is the vine, we are the branches – and that makes sense. It’s fairly simple. But what of this fruit? What am I actually meant to be producing?
Banana trees produce bananas. Tomato vines produce tomatoes. What does the Christian branch, connected to the Jesus vine produce? It felt a bit of a silly question but I didn’t have an immediate answer.
After a bit of thought, and some time flicking through my Bible, I came to two conclusions.
“Without who he gives, neither who we are to become or what we are to do, are possible.”
Firstly, we are to be producing the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. These shape our character and form who we are.
Secondly, we should be producing fruit that comes from using the gifts of the Spirit. As each of us has been given gifts from God’s Spirit, we should be using them effectively; the one with the gift of encouragement should be encouraging, the one with the gift of teaching should be teaching, etc etc. These gifts are a part of what we do, as Christian branches.
What is striking about these two things is that they are both “…of the Spirit”. They are supernaturally made, spiritually given and most effective as they are done in the Spirit’s timing and power. That’s why Jesus urges us to remain connected to him; the Sender of the Spirit. Without who he gives, neither who we are to become or what we are to do, are possible.
How often do we try to do these things in our own strength?! How many times do I strain to produce spiritual character without spiritual power? How regularly do I rely on natural talent and human force when the gift of the Spirit is offered? We’ll be surprised at the fruitfulness of our lives when we realise the key is our connection.