Originally published Monday, 19 October 2015.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is John 15.
Two very important verses found in that passage speak of a commandment from Jesus:
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another. (John 15:16-17)
But how do we bear spiritual fruit that remains like Jesus is commanding?
Well, I think we need to briefly look at the process of agriculture to discover more behind this commandment.
IT ALL STARTS WITH A SEED.
In Luke 8, Jesus compares the Word of God to a seed in the parable of the sower:
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. (Luke 8:11 NKJV)
The seed is completely useless (unless it is an edible seed, of course) if it stays in a packet or bag; it must sown into the ground to have a fighting chance of growing into a plant, tree, fruit, or vegetable.
So where do we sow the seed of God’s Word in our lives?
Four types of soil Jesus discusses:
- The Wayside/Foot path
- The Rock/Stony places
- Good Ground/Soil
Obviously the best soil for the Word of God is good ground.
What is good ground?
Well, in the natural, this would be soil that has been tilled and ready to receive the seed that the farmer is spreading. The farmer makes sure that it is cultivated and kept moist.
The worst thing that the farmer could allow to happen is for the ground to become hardened or full of weeds.
Jesus explains good ground as “those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15 NKJV).
There is a key word in that scripture that sticks out to me: “keep.”
This word is also found in another part of that Bible that gives instruction about of our heart.
Proverbs 4:23 tells us to:
KEEP your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. (NKJV)
When I reflect on what the word “keep” means in this verse, I often think of the opposite word “unkept.”
If something is unkept, is is usually a mess and not cared for- an upkept room, an unkept flower patch, or unkept nails.
So if we are to keep our heart with all diligence, we are supposed to continually care for it, protect it, and make sure it is pure and ready to receive God’s Word (Truth) at all times. We must avoid allowing our hearts to become the other three soils Jesus talks about:
Those by the WAYSIDE are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on THE ROCK are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among THORNS are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. (Luke 8:12-14)
Are you making sure your heart is kept and cultivated for the seed of the Word to grow and bear good fruit?
Are you allowing the enemy to immediately steal the Word you just heard by yielding to him and his ways?
Are you making sure your heart remains soft and pliable, guarding it from bitterness or un-forgiveness?
Are you allowing the cares of this world, the riches of this world, and the pleasures of this life crowd your heart with nasty weeds that choke out the potential fruit?
If you can answer yes to the last three questions, chances are the fruit that people can see in your life isn’t very reflective of Jesus and His Kingdom.
What comes out of your mouth is the first indicator of what condition your heart is in. Jesus tell us:
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45 NKJV)
The words you speak should be life-giving, good, and full of compassion; they should always line up with what God’s speaks of in His Word and should always point others to Jesus.
Sometimes this is easier for us when everything in life is going well: all our bills are paid and we have plenty of money in the bank, we have great health, and our relationships are strong.
In the storms and trials, the fruit that is reflected in our lives should be vibrant and fresh to “eat” for all we come in contact with. After all, the fruit we produce is not for us, but for others.
So how do we make sure our good fruit remains fresh and alive in those difficult seasons of our life?
In Part 2, I will discuss how we endure the winter seasons and ensure our fruit lasts.