Are you making the impact in your life that you had hoped? (NOTE: I hope you will join us for worship this morning at 10:30am as I offer encouragement as to how we can produce more impact for the Lord.)
I sometimes wonder if I have traded impact for comfort. I live in one of the best, most comfortable cities in the world (Money Magazine named Fishers the best place to live in the US). I often wonder if I am making the impact the Lord would expect from me?
Do you ever feel that way? Is your life producing the fruit you think you should produce?
A major theme that can be traced throughout Scripture is that as Christians we are expected—even commanded—to produce spiritual fruit. Jesus said,
“You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit” (John 15:16a).
But I think there are at least three questions we need to answer before we can understand what this means.
- What Does It Mean to Produce Fruit?
Of course our immediate answer is that producing fruit means seeing people come to faith in Jesus Christ as a result of our personal witness or ministry…and this definitely can be spiritual fruit.
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).
But as we search the Scriptures, we see so much more. Maybe the Greatest Commandment and the New Commandment are clues to producing spiritual fruit?
The Greatest Commandment: When asked what is the greatest commandment Jesus answered,
“ ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ ” (Matthew 22:37).
The New Commandment: As Jesus prepared His disciples for His imminent death He taught them,
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” (John 13:34).
I would suggest that spiritual fruit means that you are genuinely growing in your love of the Lord, and growing in your unconditional love of others…both those inside and outside of the body of Christ. (For more specifics of spiritual fruit in Scripture see Micah 6:8; Deuteronomy 10:12; Malachi 2:15; Psalm 15:1–5; Isaiah 58:6–7).
- How Do We Produce Fruit?
Here’s the GOOD NEWS: You and I don’t have to actually produce the fruit through our extraordinary personal efforts. If we will yield ourselves to His indwelling power, He will produce an abundant crop of spiritual fruit through us!
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23a).
- What Happens If We Don’t Produce Fruit?
- Dead Branches Will Be Cut Off: Jesus says that a fruitless branch is cut off from the vine. Branches that are dead are removed. Fruit is evidence of spiritual life. These are branches that pretend to be connected to the vine, but have never received eternal life…eternal life produces eternal fruit!
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.” (John 15:1–2).
- Unfruitful Christians can be taken to heaven prematurely: Christians who remain unfruitful over a period of time may be taken (through their death) to be with the Lord “early.”
“If you see a fellow believer sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life. But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it” (1 John 5:16).
- Unfruitful Christians can miss out on their rewards: One day we will give an account of our lives before our Lord. If our fruit is genuine (that is produced from a godly motive) we will be rewarded. If our fruit is “unrewardable” (because it was produced through ungodly motives) we will be saved, but just barely! In other words, we will miss out on rewards in heaven.
“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames” (1 Corinthians 3:11–15).
Are you focused on or even interested in producing spiritual fruit? Here are a few questions that may help you to assess how you are doing in producing spiritual fruit:
Check all you can honestly answer “Yes”:
___ Can you give specific ways you love the Lord more now than a year ago?
___ Are you relationally committed to those in your church family?
___ Are your children walking with the Lord?
___ Do those closest to you see marks of increasing spiritual maturity in your life?
___ Has anyone become a follower of Jesus through your witness?
___ Have you shared your faith with someone recently?
___ Have you made a sacrificial financial gift out of a generous heart lately?
___ Have you been patient when you were frustrated recently?
___ Have you shown kindness to someone who was an outsider?
___ Have you taught the Bible to someone lately?
___ Have you given control to the Holy Spirit when you were angry?
___ Have you refused to compromise your morals at work?
Onward abiding in the Vine,