Just a few words we often use to describe what Jesus calls fruitfulness. I’m not sure people out there in the world use “fruitfulness” in their daily talk. “Lucy, how fruitful was your workout?” We typically hear “gains” or “successful” or “productive”. I say all of this to be sure we are starting off on the same page. (This is a great practice, by the way, to understand what the other person means. Even if you think you know how they’re using the word, ask. Many miscommunications and even wrong doctrines are perpetuated by not knowing the real use of words.)
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
In considering our lives, and whether or not they’re fruitful, we need to start in John 15 when Jesus is speaking to His disciples during the final days of His life. Among these important words, Jesus instructed His friends on how to live with purpose: Abide in Him and bear fruit.
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
To understand how to be fruitful, they-and we-must get the order right. The source of fruitfulness is Jesus Himself. He extends His power to us when we depend solely on Him, ask Him for help, follow His ways. If we try doing life without the Lord, it amounts to nothing eternally. As we read in another part of the New Testament, all of our works will be revealed and tested by fire. Our works apart from God are like brittle firewood.
What are these works, though? How can we bear fruit? Does fruit look the same for all Christ-followers?
Immediately, we equate fruitfulness with children. Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD. The fruit of the womb is a reward. (Psalm 127:3) We see how this rings true as children begin from a seed, develop, grow, and ripen into full adulthood. While some may spurn this gift of life, those who see humans as bearing the image of God will appreciate and encourage the beauty of fruitful families.
Are there other ways to be fruitful, though? What if you’re a single woman? A woman who is unable to bear children? Or a woman who is “past her prime”? It can be tempting to fear our fruitfulness is behind us, or we’ve missed the opportunity to be fruitful, if we view having children as the sole means of fruitfulness. Here are a few ideas for those of us in these categories to increase in fruitfulness…
- Develop relationships with others’ children
- Write about wisdom you’ve learned from God
- Rejoice with young women in their pregnancies and childrearing
- Make meals for others in need
- Open your home to share with people in all stages of life
- Give thanks–write notes, encourage, don’t complain
- Fight your sin every single day
- Grow in Bible reading/understanding/applying
- Be a prayer warrior
- Check your emotions against the Truth
- Teach a younger person a skill
- Cultivate and keep a tender heart; be teachable all the days of your life
- Respect your husband (if married), and other authorities in your life
- Honor your parents, especially as you care for them in their old age
Fruitfulness is beautiful. On a small scale, don’t we just love it when the grocery store has the most colorful, enormous, and juicy produce? On a grander scale, what joy and glory we give to God when our lives are bursting with fruitfulness. How this reveals Him to the world around us!
By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.