Reading: John 15:1–8; Luke 12:16–21
Fruitfulness is a necessary part of discipleship. In fact, it could be said that fruitfulness is the goal of discipleship. The outcome of growth in personal holiness and gift ought to be effectiveness for the sake of the Kingdom of God within our lives. Fruitfulness is also productive for our own development. Someone who is being continually productive will be healthy and motivated in their onward walk with God. Stagnation brings frustration and frustration leads back into a lack of fruitfulness.
The ancient picture of Jeremiah the prophet holds good today. It is those whose heart and hope are fixed in God who are fruitful and who know how to survive even under the most intense pressure of life:
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.
Fruitfulness is a major key of the New Testament. The Holy Spirit is given to us to bear within our lives fruit towards God. By our willingness or yieldedness we can enable Him or by our disobedience and stubbornness we can prevent Him. In the parable of the rich fool the Lord Jesus warns us against getting our priorities wrong and becoming rich towards ourselves rather than being rich towards God (see Luke12:21). God’s purpose for us is that our whole lives—that is, every part of our life—should be rich towards Him, bearing fruit for our benefit and His glory.
A fruitful spirit: ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’ (Galatians 5:22).
A fruitful mind: ‘Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things’ (Philippians 4:8).
Fruitful in deeds: ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech’ (1 Peter 3:10).
Fruitful in gift: ‘Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms’ (1 Peter 4:10).
Fruitful in fellowship: ‘Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching’ (Hebrew 10:24, 25).
These scriptures are only samples of the many passages which speak of the need for fruitfulness in our lives as believers. Jesus said that it was ‘by their fruit you shall know them’. There are, I believe, some extremely important issues at stake here and they lie within areas where many Christians never find the answer. Many of the commonest reasons for lack of fruitfulness lie within areas which relate to our own personal lives and emotions. Unless we get our house in order in these areas the inner battles and fears will always dominate us and overwhelm whatever potential there might be for God.