Our spiritual fruit requires the right source, seed, and soil.
Over the past couple of years, I have taken on the challenge of horticulture. Whether tending to my plants inside or my shrubs outside, it could be better defined as horror-culture. Yet and still, I have managed to keep them alive and facilitate new growth. The secret to my success has been selecting plants and shrubs that are low maintenance—sort of like plug and play.
Now don’t get me wrong, I water, prune, and repot them, but my husbandry stops about there. Somehow it all works out. And that’s what excites me each time I see new growth—I am participating in the life and flourishment of these living organisms.
Facilitating Life and Flourishment
Everything God entrusts into our care He intends for us to facilitate life and flourishment. But it takes time to learn what works and what doesn’t, when and when not, how much and how little. In other words, the plants I have today should be thankful they are not their ancestors.
Sometimes we fail to understand that life is a process. There are moments when we excel like King Midas, and there are others when we fail like the Bad News Bears. It is part of the ebb and flow of life to keep us humble and dependent upon the Lord.
Receiving Spiritual Life and Nourishment
In John 15:5, Jesus states, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (NASB).
Unlike my plants, we are anything but low maintenance. Yet, Christ sees fit to graft us into His vine and supply us with spiritual nourishment that keeps us alive and flourishing. He waters us with His Spirit, prunes us with His chastisement, and repots us into greater responsibility.
Jesus found us as dead branches that had been discarded and trampled upon, but through His supernatural power, He restored us back to life and connected us to His life-giving Spirit. His Spirit supplies us with the spiritual nutrients we need to produce much fruit. The longer we stay connected to Him, the greater becomes our capacity to produce fruit on His behalf.
However, when we disconnect ourselves from Jesus by pursuing the cares of this world, we begin to lose our vitality and strength. Our leaves begin to wither, our fruit fails to reach maturity, and our branches begin to dry out. But in His lovingkindness, He prunes the dead fruit and dead leaves from our lives so that we can once again experience the flow of His Spirit through us.
Eventually, our roots become too large for where we are, and Jesus relocates us to a larger space that facilitates even greater growth and production. So, the key to greater levels and dimensions in Jesus is greater production for Jesus. The more we produce for Him, the larger spaces He will set us in.
Examining Our Branches and Fertilizing Our Soil
The question we must ask ourselves is, what’s on our branches? If we see spiritual fruit, then we can safely conclude that we are remaining in Jesus. But if our branches look withered and wilted, then we can conclude that we are connecting to the wrong vine.
The good news is that we can still reconnect. How do we reconnect? We must fertilize the soil of our souls with Jesus’s words (v. 7) and keep His commandments (v. 10).
When we don’t see fruit in our lives, the first thing we need to do is check our seed, because fruit can only be produced if a seed has been sown. Jesus teaches us in the Parable of the Sower that the Scriptures are spiritual seed (Mark 4:14). The seed of God’s Word sinks into the soil of our hearts and is watered by the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). The Spirit then germinates the Word in us until we begin to see spiritual fruit come to bear in our lives.
At the same time, we must continually monitor the soil of our hearts. When we don’t see fruit from God’s seed, it is time to inspect our soil to determine if it has become thorny. Thorny soil happens when we fail to keep Christ’s commandments. While the seed may be sown by the Sower, it is falling on thorny soil that prevents fruit from being produced (Mark 4:18-19). We remove the thorns through confession of our sins and obedience to God’s Word. As we do, our soil becomes fertile, and fruit is once again produced in our lives.
While I am attempting to resuscitate the soil of my house plants because I listened to the bad advice of someone I thought knew what they were talking about, I am grateful that I can entrust the soil of my soul to Jesus, the Vine, and His Father, the Husbandman.