I’ve been thinking about fruit lately. The fruit that my life produces. Scripture about fruit has been popping up in just about every setting for me (perhaps because it is spring)? Anyway, a few weeks ago I was in a group that read John 15:1-17. The vine and the gardener. I invite you to read it now if you don’t already have the story in mind.
A few things struck me in that conversation. First of all, the branches not bearing fruit are cut off, while the branches that are bearing fruit are “pruned”. Either way, there is cutting that is happening. The things that do produce fruit in our lives are still being trimmed and cut, in order to be shaped to God’s will. Some things are removed entirely, some things are snipped here and there, but the cut…the wound…still happens. Even when we are bearing great fruit, there still may be some pain in that process as God shapes us more fully to His will.
Secondly, I found myself taking control of the situation. I found myself saying, “I try to cut these things out of my life. I try to focus on these things that I recognize as bringing fruit”. One of my friends pointed us back to scripture and said that it was GOD that was pruning, not us. Hmmmm… It should be so very simple, I’m not sure how I had missed that. In order to truly submit to God’s will, we must be willing to submit to the fact that He has control over what to cut off and what to prune. Something many of us may understand, but to hear the words was profound.
Thirdly, I thought about the ultimate goal of fruit. Fruit, ultimately, is not just good for the eye. It not just good to eat. The ultimate goal of fruit is to grow a new tree, that will then produce more fruit. This has a profound impact on my understanding of ministry. If the fruit of ministry is not building others up to produce more fruit, then it is not fully doing what God intended.
Just some things that I’ve been thinking about…What do you think? Do you ever try to be the gardener? Where have you seen the fruit of ministry, growing new disciples, which produce more fruit?