Apples Don't Strive to Grow, Neither Should You!
We recently moved out to the country. It's been a change of pace for me as I have always lived in town among neighbors with easy access to things. Since the trip into town is long, I find myself staying at home in the evenings. I enjoy walking around our property after supper with the dogs. They love the chance to explore every nook and cranny of the acreage and it is a great time to unwind from the day.
As I was walking one day I noticed an apple tree. I didn't realize it was there when we purchased the property because at that time it was spring; too early to identify it. I was pleasantly surprised at this finding, looking forward to autumn when I would have this sweet delicious fruit to enjoy.
Every couple weeks I walk by to check the progress. Each apple started as a bud but through the course of the summer they have grown, become sweet and taken on color. I plan to pick the first batch this weekend to give away to friends and perhaps I’ll even bake a pie. I am excited at the thought of having all of this at my disposal.
One day as I was relaxing in my hammock, I began to think about my apple tree. Getting apples has been easy; I haven't had to do anything because of the nature of the tree. You see, the tree produces apples because it is an apple tree, this is its function. It doesn't strive, it doesn't work, it just produces because it is an established tree whose roots go deep. The entire root system goes down into the nutrient rich soil and draws from the underground water supply. It survives and flourishes, even in drought, because it is tapped into the water source.
"I am the Vine; You are the Branches"
As I pondered this, I was reminded of the words of Jesus, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" ( John 15:5 ). So many times as Christians we try to bear fruit on our own. It's a lot work. We strive, we struggle, and we feel guilty when things don't turn out right but it shouldn't be hard. We should be like my apple tree which yields fruit in its season simply by drawing from its life source.
As Christians we are also trained to think that our fruit should be programs, service and works, but Paul said, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" ( Galatians 5:22-23 ). The Amplified Bible describes it in this way, "But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge]" ( Galatians 5:22-23 ). Do you see the difference? By drawing from the Source we don't strive for patience, we have it. We don't struggle to love one another, we just do. We don’t fight for self-control; it is evident in our lives because as Christians, we are like Christ.
Just like my apple tree bears apples, believers bear the fruit of the Spirit. We do this by abiding in our Source. "Remain in me, and I will 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 a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" ( John 15:4-5 ). By tapping into the Source and dwelling in relationship with God and His Word, these things will naturally flow out of your life because this is your natural function as a Christian.
Stop striving to please, stop trying to be something you are not, producing something other than what the Lord wants for your life. Dwell and remain in the Vine and you will find your tree full of fruit, grown effortlessly and ready with each season. When others walk by they will also see and recognize who you are by the fruit displayed in your life.
That all sounds great but how can one simply "remain" in Jesus and He in us. You are saying that's the solution with no real clarity as to how to do that.
You have given the classic answer of having relationship with God. Does this simply mean reading ones Bible and participating in what seems to be very one sided babble at an empty room. If that is all there is it seems a bit flat and one-sided and easily turns into works based "remaining in God".
March 7, 2011
To question if christ is in you is to dout your own salvation. faith cometh by hearing hearing by the word of God study to show theyself approved a workman need not be ashamed rightly dividing the wrd of truth. stay the course for the path is narrow.it is God grace that saves
March 16, 2011
Paul wrote this in March, and there is still no answer from Juli.
I am with Paul on this.
Not sure how Michael's response (assuming it was a response to Paul) answered his question of "how."
I too think this is beautiful, but wonder practically how to "remain" in Him.
September 12, 2011
I’ve been thinking all day on how to response to the questions posed above. It seems that I did not describe a practical way to remain in the vine so that the fruit of the spirit is the natural byproduct. Paul commented above that the normal answer given to this question is to read your Bible and pray, indicating that this answer is not satisfactory. However, even King David said this is the key to prospering, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (Psalms 1:1-3).
However, I think the difference between ‘simply reading ones Bible and participating in what seems to be very one sided babble at an empty room’ is expectation. When we expect God to met us and answer our prayers then our experience with both reading the Bible and praying is much different. And the relationship that exists is different as well because it is built on faith. It will resembles what Jesus describe in John 15 about remaining and abiding in the source and seeing fruit produced.
So, if you are looking for a practical way to remain in the vine that you were grafted into by faith so that you can produce the fruit which comes by planting the seeds of the Word in your heart, than take the words Jesus spoke seriously, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (John 15:7). In other words, find the promises that God has made to you and hold him at his word. Start reading what He has said expecting to see it come to pass and believing that it will. God always responds to faith and you will never experience a one-sided relationship with Him, instead He will surprise you and pour out incredible blessing on you life.
September 13, 2012