Our Newtown Pippin apple tree in the back acre is heavy-laden with ripe, delicious fruit. I’m just itching at the seams to make some apple crisp, or Dutch apple pie, or dried apples, or apple sauce, or apple butter, or all of the above! My husband’s going to be a very happy camper! If you have any favorite recipes you’d like to share, please post them in the comments below – but don’t give away any family secrets!
Recently, I was reminded of John 15:5, which says, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” Just like the season has arrived for my apple tree to bear fruit, we sisters in Christ go through our own seasons of pruning, growth, and bearing fruit – all in God’s perfect timing.
Sometimes, in the moment, I think we’d like to put quotation marks around “perfect” when it comes to God’s timing for pruning and growth. We may think, Really, God? You chose NOW to cut that out of my life? Or, God, I know I needed to learn to have more patience, but did You have to test it RIGHT NOW? I have things to do! We all know “growing pains” earned its description for a reason.
But even so, we know that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). So, we persevere, desiring to bring glory to God, who tells us to “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18).
It’s so much easier to have joy during the season of bearing fruit when we get to see the tangible results of our labor. Bearing fruit is inextricably linked to being a Christian. John 15:8 tells us, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”
This leads me to ask myself, Am I bearing fruit? Am I easily recognizable as a Christian no matter which season I find myself in? If the answer is “no,” I need to check my heart to see who exactly is sitting on the throne and whether or not I’m actively seeking to grow and bear fruit through obeying God’s commands.
Author and speaker Francis Chan illustrates it this way:
It’s something like when I tell my daughter to go clean her room, and she comes back later and says she’s memorized it. “You said, ‘Go clean your room.’” And she adds that she can say that in Greek as well. And then she also says, “My friends are going to come over and we’re going to study what it would look like if I cleaned my room.”1
Maybe in the illustration, Chan’s daughter had the best of intentions. But even so, any parent would regard her actions as disobedience because ultimately, she never actually does what she’s told. Are we guilty of doing the same thing in our walks with God?
It can be so easy to go through only the inward motions of being a Christian instead of living what we learn as we abide in Christ. Or maybe “making disciples of all nations” feels like too daunting of a task – how can we “normal people” going about our daily lives make any semblance of a dent in that command? We aren’t all called to be revivalists like D.L. Moody.
I think it all starts on an individual basis. We can intentionally look for opportunities to share the Gospel with someone. We can take the time to build that relationship and develop a rapport with them. We’re all living in a Millennial world (“pray without ceasing” comes to mind again), and Millennials just want to be known and loved for who they are. But isn’t that true for all of us? Pouring ourselves into one person at a time is manageable, something we’re all capable and equipped by the Holy Spirit to do.
We are known by our fruit. Matthew 7:20 says, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” This means we treat others as better than ourselves. We go out of our way to show God’s love and demonstrate His grace – even when I’m not feeling so gracious after someone cuts me off on the freeway. We bear the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Even something as simple as smiling at a stranger can lift both of your spirits – and maybe even open the door to conversation, when you happen to slip in a comment about how God has blessed you that day. The opportunities are endless!
When we bear fruit, we bless others. And more importantly, we glorify God. So, go pick your apple and share it with someone!
Family Radio Staff
1Francis Chan, “Following Jesus,” Basic, produced by Flannel. David C. Cook, 2012. DVD.