Adding a new baby to your home should be a joyful time. However, it appears to have displaced all the members of our family. Positions have shifted. Roles have been adjusted. Resulting in unrest, impatience, and frustration.
In a desperate attempt to break the negative cycle, last week I sat down outside with my Bible while the boys ran wild (thanks Kat Lee for this idea). New insight for our situation came from a familiar passage:
The fruit he mentions is not apples & oranges. But the kind of fruit our family is craving: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22).
The Unfruitful Branch
He describes himself as the vine and us as the branches. In the past readings of this passage there appeared to be two branches:
- A branch connected to the vine producing fruit.
- A branch disconnected from the vine with no fruit.
However, this time around I noted a third option: a branch physically connected to the vine but producing no fruit.
”Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away” (John 15:2).
This is where I see myself lately. Externally I’m doing all the “right” activities: reading the Bible in the morning, attending church, and praying. I’m going through the motions. But I am producing no fruit: impatience instead of patience, harshness instead of kindness.
The root of the problem is not my spiritual activities. My “branch” is connected to the vine. But the position of my heart is misplaced.
Christ does not say “check in with me occasionally” or “talk to me only when you need something” and you will produce fruit. He instructs us: “abide in me.” (John 15:4)
In fact, the word “abide” (“meno” in Greek) is used eight times in these eleven verses…so He must really mean it. To “abide in Him” goes deeper than performing spiritual tasks. To “abide” means: “to continue to be present; not to depart; to remain close-beside; to persevere.”
- Abiding means focusing my thoughts on Him throughout the day. Not just first thing in the morning, when I spend more time tweeting than dwelling.
- Abiding means meditating on His Word by memorizing Scripture. Not just finding one verse to share on social media.
- Abiding means worshipping Him through music or enjoying His creation during a walk outside. Not absent-mindedly listening to the local Christian radio station.
- Abiding means seeking Him first in prayer. Not texting a friend to complain about my problems.
Remain in His Sacrificial Love
The first step in producing fruit is abiding. The next step is remaining in His love (John 15:9). HIS love.
Not just anyone’s love. The unconditional love of a Savior. The sacrificial kind of love. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16).
How do I “remain in His love”? Christ gives us the answer:
“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:10).
Abiding in His love comes from obeying His commands. What is the next command Christ gives?:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Positive, Fruit-producing Cycle:
There is my answer. To break out of my negative cycle I have to enter into Christ’s positive, fruit-producing cycle. To have love, joy, peace…I need to love others (including my family) sacrificially.
Abide in Him & His Word–>Remain in His love–>Obey His commands–> Love one another–>Fruit of Spirit
When I chose to be mechanically attached to the vine but produce no fruit (“a clanging cymbal” serving without love), I will be cut off from the vine to wither. The only good use for such a branch is to be burned (John 15:6). Firewood.
However, my decision to abide in Him throughout my day not only affects my day, but my tomorrow and my children’s tomorrows. Such a decision produces “lasting fruit” (John 15:16) of love, joy & peace for future generations to savor.
Do you struggle with abiding? Do you feel like the 3rd option, the branch connected but fruitless? What helps you remain in His love and love others well?