My mother, bless her heart, is an amazing gardener. All of her potted plants are lush and green, bursting with blooms at the proper time each year. Her yard is just as lovely, with beds of colorful flowering plants and grasses, seemingly immune to Florida’s harsh sun and frequent dry spells. I, on the other hand, can kill a plant faster than you can say, “rhododendron”! Seriously. I’ve tried many different watering methods, from watering daily, to watering only when the soil is dry. I’ve even tried waiting for the plants themselves to cry out, “Water me now!”. Nothing I’ve tried has transformed my patio from its drab appearance of perpetual winter. I have come to the conclusion that I did not inherit my mother’s “green thumb gene”.
Did you know that the Bible mentions gardening?
In John, chapter 15, Jesus uses a beautiful example of a gardener and a fruit-bearing vine to illustrate our abiding relationship with Him. In John 15:1-2 he says, “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit. While each branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” In this illustration, God, the heavenly gardener, is pruning us as we go through life so that we will be more fruitful and effective for him. He accomplishes this through the various trials and difficulties we experience on this side of heaven.
Jesus goes on to say, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” (vv 5-6) Jesus speaks of himself as the true vine to which we, the branches, are attached. The message is that we become useless and ineffective without Jesus Christ just as the branch withers and dies if it is severed from the nourishing, life-giving vine.
So what is this fruit that we are supposed to be bearing?
Well, God’s Word lists the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
The more that our lives exhibit these traits, the more we will impact our fellow human beings and draw the lost to Jesus Christ.
Jesus tells us the purpose for bearing spiritual fruit in verse 8: “This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Our spiritual fruit shows the world to whom we belong.
And practically, how do we “abide in Him” in order that we can win the lost to Christ?
- Read God’s Word daily. Do you own a Bible? Is it collecting dust? Brush it off, open to the book of John, or anywhere else, and begin reading. How else will you truly get to know the life-giving vine, Jesus Christ?
- Spend time in prayer each day, talking to God. He is always there for you. You can have an ongoing dialogue with him throughout the day. He cares what you are going through, big and small. In today’s world you can even talk to him in the car…everyone will just think you’re talking on your bluetooth-connected phone!
- Know what is right and wrong according to God’s Word and do your best to obey his commands. Of course we will still fall short at times because we all have that rebellious sin nature, but, nevertheless, Christians are called to obedience.
- Connect with a fellowship of believers, (better known as, a church). A network of Christian friends who will support and encourage you in your walk with God can be an amazing blessing.
- Have the courage to walk contrary to the culture. Stand up for what’s right socially and politically. Don’t fear being different. Biblical, conservative, Christians are quickly becoming the oppressed minority. Are you abiding in Christ so that you will be up to the task?