“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:2)
Scripture Reading – Matthew 25:14-30
In John 15:2, we see a progression taking place from those who don’t bear fruit, to those who do bear fruit, and finally to those who bear much fruit. This verse teaches an important principle. Since Christ is working in us so that we bear much fruit, we should not be satisfied with only some fruit. Christ desires that we continue to grow and bear fruit to become more like Him. Satisfaction with what we have done can threaten our faith and growth. In the Book of Judges, the people of Dan wanted to attack the city of Laish. After scouting out the city, they discovered that the city was filled with “a people quiet and unsuspecting” (Judges 18:27). Because the people of Laish were satisfied with themselves, they let their guards down and they were easily defeated by the people of Dan.
Those who become satisfied and comfortable in their spiritual lives no longer have a desire to strive for more. They see fruit in their lives and think that they have done enough, especially compared to others. A true disciple is never satisfied with only a little bit of fruit. They want more than just some fruit. They desire to do even greater works for God’s glory. In the Parable of the Talents, the men received differing amounts of talents. These men were expected to be good stewards and make the talents earn more talents. The one who received five talents was not satisfied with only earning an additional four talents. He could have compared himself to the one who received two talents, and earned an additional two talents, and thought that was the most productive. However, the goal is not to do more than those around us, but to produce fruit according to God’s will for us. We must be accountable for every talent that is entrusted to us.
I praise God that He has entrusted to me a ministry in which I must work hard. If I weren’t in a ministry like this, I wouldn’t have grown into the man that I am today. Because I am serving in a difficult field, it forces me to have greater faith and trust in Christ. Every day I face those who oppose the gospel. If I had been in a comfortable ministry all these years, I wouldn’t have grown as much as I have. Some people in ministry limit themselves to what they will teach on or do. They learn only a few things and routinely do those things. They serve, but not with a sense of urgency. Since I work with those who oppose the gospel, I am forced to pray more diligently. And, I know that I can only do what I do with the Spirit’s help. You, too, should rejoice if you find yourself in a ministry that is challenging. Perhaps, you are struggling to meet your family’s needs with the funds that you receive each month, or you are constantly harassed by the authorities. You can rejoice, because these hardships can drive you to a deeper abiding relationship with Christ.
The vinedresser looks at the branch with the purpose in mind to make each branch even more fruitful. You can rejoice because God Himself is involved in this process. We know that our struggle is not in vain, because God’s power is at work within us. It’s the very life of Christ flowing through us, so that our striving produces even more fruit for His glory. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of the gospel and blessed are those who struggle to make ends meet, so that they will learn to have complete faith and dependence on Christ. In this way, the power of Christ is made evident in our lives. The Father cares about every branch and its fruit, and He is personally overseeing the entire pruning process. You can have confidence that the Father is at work in you. What additional fruit is God wanting you to produce?