John 15:4-5 “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 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.”
Once again the passage is so rich it would take more than a lifetime to fully appropriate it all. These two verses express a reality we don’t like to admit. To use a phrase my mother taught me, human beings are “independent as a hog on ice.” We don’t like to take directions and we think we can do it all on our own. What we don’t realize is that, as it says here, we can do nothing on our own. Every breath we take is a gift of the grace of God! That’s why life itself is stewardship; we are accountable to God for what we do with it. As I have written several times in the past, that is the primary motive behind the majority of vehement atheists: they don’t want to acknowledge their accountability. Even among Christians the real impact of these two verses is often ignored. People may think they are doing great things for God, but if they are failing to stay fully connected and grounded in Christ in the process, they find everything falls apart and they have accomplished nothing. We’re back to Jesus’ statement that at the Final Judgment there will be people who will point to great things they have done in in His name, but He will say He never knew them. (Matthew 7:21-23) It doesn’t matter what we do, if it isn’t done in Christ, in full submission to Him, it will not bear lasting fruit.
This is of course very applicable to me, as it is to every believer. There are those who are in awe of my being a “real live missionary,” but that is meaningless if I’m not being obedient to Christ. I’ve got to be careful that I don’t try to figure out what God needs to have done and set out to do it. He doesn’t need my help in that area! Rather, I need to be humbly available to Him for whatever He wants to do through me, whether it’s something I would ever have thought of or not. I, of course, want my life to be fruitful, both the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and otherwise, but as Jesus made very clear in these two verses, that will never happen unless I am firmly grounded in Him. The good news is, God wants me to be fruitful, as it says in verses 8 and 16. I don’t have to be uptight about it, but rest, relax, and rejoice in Him.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Sometimes I try doing a “fruit inventory” on my own, and get a bit depressed about it. Help me release that to You as well. Help me remember that I don’t know the impact I have on people, much less how that ripples out to others. Help me trust You enough to walk in total obedience, letting You be the judge of me and everything else, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!