Bearing fruit is a main marker of being a true disciple of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of John, Chapter 15, there are myriad expectations laid out for us that prove to ourselves and others if we are actual disciples of Christ or simply along for a walk with Jesus, following behind, out of earshot of what the Master of the Universe is saying to his disciples.
Let’s get close and listen in. This is what we hear from Christ: “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8 NIV) And then we hear Jesus say: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” (John 15:16 NIV) After many more expectations being set for us to be considered true disciples, he finishes with this: “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:26-27 NIV)
For many years, I mistakenly believed that the ultimate “fruit” was someone receiving Jesus Christ as their savior. I see this erroneous belief play out in the lives of fellow Christ-followers as well. If we are not super careful, we can let pride enter in as we subtly brag: “I led that person to Christ.” God taught me that this is not true, and that Christ leads people to Himself. My fruit is simply that I was used by God to facilitate the conversation.
This scripture is what the SOLIDpastors ministry is based on: “Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (2 Timothy 2:19 NIV) The relevant words here regarding “mistaken fruit” are “The Lord knows those who are his...” – Christ is doing the work of drawing people to follow Him. I am simply to be a servant to my Master, humbly being obedient to the work he sets before me.
So if this is not the ultimate “fruit” of discipleship, what is? As always, we can find the answers to our questions in the sacred Scriptures.
The phrase "bearing fruit" in the Bible is often used metaphorically to refer to producing good works or positive qualities as a result of one's faith and relationship with God. Consider this scripture:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:22-26 NIV) This is the ultimate model of spiritual growth and character development.
A disciple bears fruit in his or her character. I would say that is the ultimate fruit.
Here are four other ideas along the same lines, for your consideration:
“Bearing fruit" is a rich metaphor that encompasses the production of good works, development of Christian virtues, evidence of true faith, and living a life that is in line with God’s will and purposes. And most importantly, it defines a true disciple of Christ.
Your aspiring servant, Daniel M.
January 12, 2024
POSTSCRIPT: Dear friends, if this daily, transparent “Conversations with Christ” blesses you, please go to www.SOLIDpastors.org, where you will find these posted, and a repository of all, in English and Spanish. If you ever want to chat, you can reach me at Daniel@SOLIDpastors.org. May Christ bless you richly as you have your own intimate, daily conversations with Christ.