We are called to live as disciples of Jesus – to live as He did and do as He did. The outworking of this in our lives is that we must bear much fruit. We cannot glorify God without it, and our fruit is the measure of our discipleship.
By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. (John 15:8)
Today’s verse neatly upends any comfortable or complacent expectations we have about our walk with Christ. As believers, we talk about living our lives to glorify God and about surrender and obedience. While all these are very relevant and we cannot dispute the truth that this is how we are called to live, it seems there is more. Whichever way we look at it, Jesus is saying here that the only way to truly glorify God is to bear much fruit. In addition, He tells us that this is the indicator of true discipleship. It seems, then, that we cannot separate bearing fruit from the God-glorifying lives of true believers. If we’re living as we should, fruit must come. If fruit doesn’t come, we’re not living as we should. No fuzzy grey bits here. It’s a simple statement of fact, one we cannot ignore.
Bear much fruit and giving Him glory.
All believers include giving Him glory in our prayers, praise, and worship and it’s right that we do so. Our God deserves all the glory in all things and in every situation. This way of glorifying Him is primarily vocal and so includes intellect, voice, and will. It’s also the first way in which we can bear much fruit but to do so, it must be fundamentally spiritual rather than intellectual. It’s very easy to repeat the right words and phrases and even convince ourselves that we really mean them. Or we can get caught up in a moment of emotionalism to echo what we hear around us. Finally, glorifying God in this way can fall by the wayside when the going gets tough. The reason for this is that it makes use of our soulish faculties to express what is in our spirit and these sometimes hinder us.
The soul – mind, intellect, and will – is entirely of the flesh. Like the body, there is no spiritual regeneration of the soul. Anything outside of the spirit remains under the control of the natural and is subject to the normal decay of the world. What this means is that body and soul must both die. The body ages and moves towards death. The soul will die with it, but God intends that it die now. We are to crucify the flesh with Christ, which essentially means to bring it into obedience to Him. This is how we bear much fruit by giving glory to God. The fruit is our obedience and surrender to the sovereignty of God. We use the soul to express it, but it’s entirely an act of the spirit. Our soul is simply an instrument and we do not allow it to interfere or intrude.
Living for His glory and bear much fruit.
Giving Him glory is our first conscious choice, but we must move beyond this to living for His glory. The first must grow into a real commitment to live for Him. Words, as they say, are easy. All too often, we say one thing but our lives say another. What happens is that any fruit that may result from our verbal glorification of God is negated by wrong actions. Words and actions must align. Each must confirm the other. We begin to manifest the injunction to bear much fruit when we begin to live to glorify God. We mustn’t get hung up on the ‘literal’ fruits like bringing others to Christ or the fruits of the Spirit. These are part of it, but our fruit is also what others see in us. When they see joyful obedience and willing surrender, they see the supernatural fruit of relationship with Christ.
Giving glory to God through what we say is intermittent. By this I mean that we don’t go around speaking an endless stream of honour and praise. It’s limited to specific situations and when prompted by the Spirit to do so. We cannot sustain it indefinitely. Living for His glory, however, is constant and sustainable. It’s an active and dynamic way of life that includes Him in every detail of our lives. Self takes second place and our joy is to give Him glory in every single moment. It’s a powerful and constant living out of praise and worship that continually glorifies God. We bear much fruit when we live this way, because we manifest the nature and character of Christ. It’s imperishable fruit, entirely supernatural and beyond human ability. This fruit works hand in hand with our ‘spoken’ fruit, each confirming and encouraging the other.
Bear much fruit and the Spirit.
Giving and living His glory have a supernatural outworking that multiplies our ability to bear much fruit. They place us in surrender and obedience, and the fruits of the Spirit are slowly worked into our lives. Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are all evidence of the nature of Christ in us. They are entirely the work of the Spirit and are released at His discretion. Like a supernatural gardener, He lovingly tends us, prunes us, feeds us, and shapes us until Jesus emerges more and more. The fruit we bear is Christ Himself, a vital testimony to who and what He is and all that He has done. To bear the fruit that is Jesus is the greatest way we can ever glorify God who sent Him, because Jesus is the manifestation of the Father and lived to bring Him glory.
For the fruits of the Spirit to manifest in our lives, we must come to a place where we willingly submit to the work of the Spirit in us. The path takes us through giving Him glory and living for His glory. These are the two things that work to subdue self and bring us into the place of yieldedness He requires. We absolutely cannot bear fruit without the Spirit. Even giving glory and living for His glory are the Spirit’s work in us. He prompts us, leads us, and empowers us on the journey. To bear much fruit we must first yield. Thereafter, the fruits of the Spirit will manifest in and through our lives as the nature and character of Jesus are worked in us. These are the fruits that feed the world, that reveal the Saviour and are empowered by the Spirit to bring others to Him.
Bear much fruit in the harvest.
All things work towards God’s kingdom. The fruit we bear is to feed others, to bring the gift of life in Christ to a spiritually starved humanity. There is always sufficient for our needs and an abundance left over, not for ourselves but for others. To bear much fruit means to take what we have been given and use it to reach the lost. As we ‘seed’ ourselves into the world around us, the Spirit quickens and empowers what we speak and do to bear much fruit in the harvest field. We are no longer self but a tree bearing Jesus, who is life to those who are dying. Our fruit is Jesus, who was given so that none might perish and all could have life eternal. Bringing in the unsaved is still and always will be the primary purpose of every believer who claims to be His disciple.
It’s important that we don’t confuse the issue of works. Real faith must manifest in works, but the works are not the fruit. We may bear much fruit through kingdom work, but it is the fruit that glorifies God, not the works. At the same time, we won’t bear fruit if we don’t go out and do the work. Ignoring the great commission will ultimately leave us dry and barren because we receive by the measure we give out. If we don’t give, we won’t receive. We cannot glorify God by halves. When we hold back on the work, we hold back on the glory due to Him. All things work in and through us to bring us to the place of going out and glorifying God in a real, active, dynamic way. It is the fruit that glorifies God, and if we don’t bear, we diminish His glory.
Bear much fruit is the indicator of discipleship.
Jesus isn’t saying that bearing fruit makes us disciples. That would be a doctrine of works, which is entirely against what the Bible teaches. But what He is saying is that when we bear much fruit, our fruit is the visible evidence of our discipleship. When He called His disciples, He did so with the words ‘follow me’ which is significant. It doesn’t mean to simply trundle along after Him. It’s to follow in His footsteps, to do as He did and live as He did. It doesn’t mean to simply ‘hang around’ with Him but to live like Him and be like Him. His life bore abundant fruit. The church is evidence of that as the fruit of all those who were truly disciples obeyed the command to go. The fruit we bear indicates the nature and depth of our relationship with Him.
Lord, we thank You for the life You have given us which empowers us to bear Your supernatural fruit in our lives. Our desire is to glorify the Father as You did, to live as Your disciples in surrender and obedience. Help us to yield to the work of the Spirit in us so that we may bear much fruit. Empower us to go out into the harvest field and to share what You have so graciously given us – Your own nature and character.