FAITH & WORKS, Part II –
In Part I, we studied what James clearly lays out on how our faith should be evidenced by our works. And boy, that was convicting. I am not here to tell you that I have this all figured out or am winning at my walk with the Lord daily. I just want to offer you a place where you feel encouraged and know that you are not alone in trying to discern how God wants our lives to be a reflection of His love. The path we have chosen to walk is not easy, but the reward is great! So don’t feel down if you are not where you want to be in your walk with Christ. Use this to motivate you, knowing I am here trying to do the same!
Today we are going to look at a passage in John 15. The concept is simple. Everyone should always have a fruity trifle at any social gathering! OK, that’s not the point at all, but those are so delicious!
Let’s take a look at God’s Word and get the real point of today’s post on Faith & Works:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 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.
5 “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. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
Jesus tells us we are to bear fruit. That’s a very common phrase in the Christian lingo. So what does it mean “to bear fruit?”
Fruit is a very relatable, easy-to-grasp image for all of us. What fruit did you think of when you were reading this? That trifle I was talking about? Maybe a plump strawberry or juicy watermelon? I doubt we thought about rotten bananas in a trashcan surrounded by flies. No, we want the rich, flavorful, perfectly ripened fruit to sink our teeth into!
In this passage, fruit is a metaphor for good results coming from the life of an obedient believer. When Jesus is our source of energy and the one who sustains us, we are able to flourish! And the great part is, we don’t have to keep it to ourselves! What good is it to have an apple tree bearing hundreds of apples, but keeping them only for yourself? Christ wants us to bear fruit so that we can offer our talents to others, and enrich their lives. When I was younger, I didn’t fully grasp this concept. Fruit gives our body energy and life; and the best fruit can even bring moments of bliss. Once we come to know Christ as our Savior, we are supposed to become that life giving tree that shares our joy, energy, and hope so that others may know Him as well. Furthermore, we are all unique, allowing us to offer a variety of fruits when we participate as in community with the body of Christ (the church)!
Tying this back to Part I, fruit is evidence of our work. Faith without work is dead, just as a fruit tree without fruit is useless. I asked this question earlier, “Can you have faith without works?” I think it is abundantly clear that the simple answer is No. Again, I think no two trees are alike. Some are young trees just sprouting their first small batch of fruit; others, much older, having witnessed God’s hand over and over in their life and as a byproduct, bearing much more fruit to share with great crowds. It doesn’t matter what your tree looks like as long as it is healthy and sharing the good news with the world. For more on the fruit of the Spirit, click here.
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” – Matthew 7:15-20
I mentioned how God revealed the connection between the passages in John and James while I was on a mission trip in Nicaragua. I knew it was easy to apply these principles while I was actively serving others by building their community a well for clean water. I also knew that the hard part would be to continue to have this mindset daily when I returned home. It doesn’t have to be that hard though when we remember that we are connected to the Giver of Life.
If you are interested in donating to help build a clean water well, visit my fundraising page!
Bear your fruit & Keep Shining!
~ Lindsey Alaine
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