By E.G. Bella
Last week I was privileged to guest post on E.G. Bella’s blog on the ‘Quality Time’ love language. (You can find my post here). Today, I am excited to share her post on the Fruit of the Spirit and abiding in Christ. When you’re finished reading here, make sure to check out her website!
That word is used ten times in the ESV (English Standard Version) of John 15, where Jesus is found talking to his disciples, explaining how they must live their lives. The fifteenth chapter of John has always been one of my favorite passages in the Bible. I love the imagery Jesus uses to illustrate what happens when one chooses to abide in Him.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit without abiding in the vine, we cannot bear fruit without abiding in Christ. Jesus encourages us to remain close to Him, trusting Him, and resting in His love and in the purpose He has for us. When we do this, we’ll bear fruit that others will recognize as His.
While I’ve loved those verses and often returned to study them, it wasn’t until recently that I connected them with Galatians 5:22: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.’
At the end of John 15, Jesus mentions ‘the Helper’ that would come to dwell in believers. We now know this Helper to be the Holy Spirit. And with the help of the Holy Spirit inside of us, as we abide in – or remain close to – Jesus, we start to bear fruit. Specifically the fruit of the Spirit.
Though both these passages have been encouragements to me over the years, I’ve always assumed them to be two different analogies. Both involve fruit, sure, but trying to combine them seemed a little disjointed. After all, that’s a lot of different kinds of fruit the Spirit cultivates in us and no vine has ever been known to grow multiple types.
But recently, while listening to a speaker approach this topic on the radio, I realized that the Bible never says fruits of the Spirit. It’s fruit. Singular, or referring to multiple fruit of the same kind. The correct usage of the word ‘fruits’ is only to address different kinds of fruit, and that’s not the word we find in Galatians 5:22. Instead, we’re told that the fruit of the Spirit is all of those things – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It’s all one package. One type. Many flavors in one wonderful kind of fruit.
Through our Vine, we bear fruit – and that fruit is the most spectacular kind there is, because it consists of everything Christians ought to radiate. As we abide in Christ, we begin to bear that fruit, and grow in all those ‘flavors’ at once. Maybe this seems obvious to you, but it was revolutionary to me at the time, and like a weight lifting off my shoulders.
I’ve often been overwhelmed by the thought of growing stronger in what seemed like all those different fruits. Usually, when I try to focus on increasing in one, another falls by the wayside and gets weaker. When I try to focus on growing in self-control, my gentleness suffers. When I try to focus on goodness, my peace gets shaky. More than once I’ve found myself desperately praying; searching for answers, feeling lost and overwhelmed and very tempted to give up trying because it seemed I’d never get there myself.
And I won’t. Not by myself.
And that’s okay.
When Jesus encouraged His disciples to abide in Him, He wanted their focus to remain solely on Him. Not on bearing fruit, but on simply remaining connected to the vine. It’s the vine’s job to flow through the branches and produce fruit through them. It’s Jesus’ task, not ours. All we need to do is our part – which is trusting that Jesus will do His.
Instead of the many, many methods I’ve tried to produce more fruit of the Spirit on my own, all I need to do is turn my attention to Jesus. And as I focus solely on Him – on growing closer to Him, trusting Him, loving Him, and living my life for Him – I’ll begin to bear fruit. I’ll grow in all of the aspects found in that fruit and won’t need to worry about whether I’m imbalanced or not strong enough or not producing fast enough.
It takes the pressure off of me and my own capabilities, and places all the focus where it belongs – in Jesus’ hands. He knows the rate at which I need to grow, the balance of ‘flavors’ I need in my life at each moment, and what needs to happen in my life for me to develop more fruit. I don’t need to concern myself with that part of it. Only with abiding in Him.
And while that can be a struggle amidst the broken world we’re in now, it also doesn’t sound nearly so overwhelming. It sounds peaceful. And even more so once I remember that Jesus will even help us with the abiding part. When we struggle to remain close to Him, He’ll tenderly coax us back again and remind us of what we truly need to be doing – as He did for me that day through the radio station.
At a time when I was very overwhelmed by the thought of becoming who He wanted me to be, God connected the dots between two passages I thought were unrelated, and showed me that He will grow me into the person He wants me to be. All I need to do is trust Him with the process.
And I’m more than happy to do so.
I don’t know where you are in your fruit-bearing journey right now, but if you’re like me – if you’re feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, discouraged, or like you’ll never get there – I pray you’ll be encouraged by what Christ’s been teaching me. He’s here to help you. He’s never asked that you bear fruit on your own. On the contrary, He asks only that you trust Him, love Him, and abide in Him, and He’ll handle the rest.
What a blessing to be connected to such a loving Vine. How amazing that we aren’t left by ourselves or abandoned to figure it out on our own. In order to bear more fruit, we need only to abide in Him, and before we know it, our lives will overflow.
I want to be fruitful, so I’m going to strive from now on to simply abide in the Vine.
Will you join me?
E. G. Bella is a bookworm turned author with a passion for cheesy puns, colorful characters, and contagious faith. Unlike most of her characters, she comes from a warm and loving home, and actually enjoys getting up with the sun. She writes in a wide variety of genres, crafting memorable and page-turning tales the whole family can enjoy.
You can find her blogging about life, writing, and what she’s learning about both – and receive one of her short stories – at https://egbella.com/.