If I were to ask a group of moms if they would like to be fruitful in their motherhood, I’m guessing none of them would say no.
But…what exactly is fruit?
I read an article online recently about fruit trees. It said, “fruits are seed houses for trees; they are a mechanism through which plants can spread their genes as far and wide as possible so more of their kind populate the land…The main objective of fruit trees is to attract various land animals, birds, insects and humans to their fruits so that they can be consumed and their seeds replanted. That is why fruit tastes delicious.”
I think it is a great illustration of what fruitful motherhood looks like practically. The fruit we produce should be delicious and inviting. It should contain seeds that eventually get spread far and wide to produce more fruit. As we walk in the Spirit as Galatians 5 instructs, we are creating storehouses of seeds that will go on to bear more fruit – in our own hearts, in our kids, in the lives of those around us. And in the context of motherhood, our kids are the literal physical fruit, and what we pour into them is the seed that will eventually go forth and bear more fruit.
So how do we do this?
How do we walk in the Spirit and be free from comparisons?
How do we produce good fruit that is glorifying to God?
God’s Word is what defines fruitful motherhood, and our understanding of His character and design should inform our understanding of what it means to be a fruitful mom. If we aren’t firm on what God’s expectations of fruitfulness are, then we will default to what the world shows us it should be or what just “feels right.”
In the Bible, Jesus talks about fruit. There is a really great word picture in John 15. Jesus says He is the true vine (tree), God the Father is the vinedresser who cares for and tends to the branches, and we are the branches that are to produce fruit.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Abide isn’t a word we use much. It often means to live or dwell. It also is referred to as remaining stable or fixed. I like that definition as we think about what Jesus is saying here about abiding in Him. Remaining stable or fixed in Jesus, as a branch would be fixed to a tree or vine.
Branches on a tree or vine are dependent and must draw life from the tree or vine. I think that’s fairly obvious. But if I think of myself as the branch, how often do I go about in my own strength? That’s why Jesus uses this analogy – to show our utter dependence upon Him. As a branch cannot live on its own, we must draw life from Jesus, the true vine. Branches fixed to the vine – abiding – will bear fruit as they remain in their life source. And you know the great thing? We don’t have to do this fruit bearing on our own. Jesus says in verse 1 that His father is the vinedresser and the branches will be tended to by the vinedresser. We will be tended to by God the Father. He does this because He cares for the tree and wants to see the tree made more glorious by healthy branches and beautiful, robust fruit.
But what about when, instead of holding up our shiny fruit, we instead leave rotten fruit in our path? We will sin against our kids and those we love, we will trample on the good fruit we try to bear. When we abide in Christ we will be pruned by our loving God, convicted of our sin and will seek forgiveness. And then we can move forward. There is great fruit that comes when we acknowledge our sin and turn from it – and that’s the beauty of abiding in Christ – we can be fruitful despite our sin. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
For our lives to bear fruit we need to not neglect the things that will nourish us:
-time in God’s word
-fellowship with other believers
Identity in Christ
I think many new moms have a preconceived idea of the “type of mom” they will be. I definitely thought I would be “athletic mom”…you know, always playing some type of sport in the yard with my kids, bringing fun snacks to games, not complaining about shuttling them from practice to practice. I remember thinking I would get a jogging stroller so I could keep running with my babies and eventually they would bike as I ran, then move on to running with me and maybe even do some road races together. Whew. Then reality hit as babies came and by the time my oldest was capable of kicking a ball, I was pregnant with my third. I was too tired to even think about kicking a soccer ball in the yard, let alone go for a run.
So what happens when we don’t measure up to our self-laid identity? Feelings of failure, inadequacy, lack of fulfillment, feeling out of place, anxiety and depression…or sometimes, and in some seasons, maybe we actually are the type of mom we want to be, accomplishing something that blesses our family and leaves us feeling like we have it all together…in either case we are placing our identity in the type of mom we are or aren’t…instead of in Christ.
And you know what? If you’re a Christian, your identity really is in Christ, whether or not you feel like it is and whether or not you’re actually living like it is. If we are honest, we know we can self-identify as a whole bunch of things other than how God sees us.
How does that affect our relationship with Him?
How are we hindered when we don’t see ourselves as He sees us?
This is directly tied to our ability to be fruitful – it holds us back.
As a Christian, we are in Christ regardless of how we feel or what sin we are struggling with. When we forget that, it’s easy to become inward focused and stop serving others. When we are in Christ we can fight sin. We don’t have to get sucked into the same sin patterns and we don’t have to try really hard to not mess up. It is by His power we can repent and move forward in forgiveness. But when we forget our identity, we forget these things.
In Christ we are freed to love, serve and sacrifice for others. All of that nourishes our lives and allows for fruit to grow.
“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
I think moms naturally understand that there is a great deal of sacrifice involved in motherhood. It starts as we sacrifice our normal eating habits for that which won’t make us nauseous…or as we sacrifice our favorite pair of jeans as our belly grows. It moves into more serious things as we sacrifice good sleep for our baby who needs to eat, maybe we sacrifice a cushioned bank account as we decide to quit our job and stay home full-time. Many things are sacrificed – some unintended and some purposeful.
As Jesus lived on this earth, His life was an act of daily dying to self. His whole purpose was to do the will of His father and bring Him glory in the process. So He sacrificed in ways when His attention was demanded by large crowds, when His words were maligned, when His disciples turned their backs on Him. And these daily sacrifices eventually led to His big sacrifice – offering His life for sinners whom He loved. So in these verses He is calling us to love in this same way – to lay down our lives for our kids, our husband, our Christian sisters and neighbors.
And why would He desire that we do this? In verse 16, Jesus tells us that He chose and appointed us that we go and bear fruit.
As we sacrifice, we will bear fruit.
But I wonder, do I see daily sacrifice as a way of life to prepare me for what God has for me? Whether it’s giving up sleep with a sick child or time to help a neighbor in need, my default is often my own desires. Selfishness as a way of life is much easier than sacrifice as a way of life. But how are we daily dying to ourselves in the small things so that we are prepared to sacrifice the bigger things?
Mama, apart from Him we can do nothing, but in Him we can bear fruit that will house seeds that are prepped and ready to bear more fruit.