Why being faithful means we have to be fruitful
Fruit-bearing is the product of regeneration. When people are born again, they naturally want to bear fruit. If people profess to believe in Christ but fail to bear fruit, it makes us wonder whether their conversion experience is genuine or not.
There is a strong association between faithfulness and fruitfulness. In John chapter 15, there is an allegory about the vine and the branches, where the former is Jesus and the latter are believers:
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. (John 15:1-8)
The secret to bearing fruit is to abide in Christ; for without Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5).
Believers who bear much fruit bring glory to God and prove that they are true disciples (John15:8).
Fruit farmers sometimes get disappointed when fruits, which appear promising at first, are shed off prematurely. Similarly, God is displeased if believers bear “fruits” that don’t last such as fame and power, instead of character and godly influence. Christ taught that believers have been appointed by God to bear fruit, the kind of fruit that lasts (John15:16). This means people around us are permanently impacted and transformed as a result of our “sowing, watering or reaping”. Our lives must touch the lives of those around us. We must leave a lasting legacy for succeeding generations.
Some believers may be impatient to bear “fruit”. When we sense God’s calling, we want to quickly fulfill it. But God may have other plans. He may send trials to prepare us before He launches us into ministry. For every branch that bears fruit, the vinedresser (God the father) prunes so that the branch (believer) might bear more fruit (John 15:2b).
What are the types of “spiritual fruit” God expects us, as believers, to bear?
There are various types of “spiritual fruit”:
Fruit of good works (Colossians 1:10)
Fruit of righteousness (Philippians 1:11)
Fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23)
Fruit of evangelism—lives impacted by Paul’s ministry (2 Corinthians 3:2)
Fruit of lips—praising God (Hebrews 13:15)
Why is fruit-bearing associated with genuine faith?
In sounding out the warning to believers about false prophets, Jesus taught that we can discern whether leaders are genuine or not by the type of fruits they manifest:
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.” (Matthew 7:15-18)
‘Good fruits’ are included in the list of characteristics of heavenly wisdom.
“The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17).
Is fruitfulness or productivity the most important criterion in God’s eyes?
In the Parable of the Talents, the men with two talents and five talents each made a 100% return on investment for the master. Here, we notice that productivity is not the only criterion by which God judges man; faithfulness in managing the talents given to man is the main determinant. God is being fair in the way He dishes out rewards. He does not expect the two-talent man to be as productive as the five-talent man. Neither did He reward the latter much more than the former. Both these servants received the same commendation: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25: 21,23).
Fruitfulness, in itself, will not please God if there are ulterior motives behind our good works. If we serve God with a personal agenda in mind, then our good works will be burnt up on judgment day. http://bit.ly/1LKKiAg
Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
Thus, believers are not judged based on our fruitfulness per se. God also looks into areas such as our faithfulness and sincerity of motives.
What are the consequences if a believer fails to bear fruit?
There are several warnings directed at believers who take their faith lightly and fail to bear fruit.
“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”(Matthew 7:19)
While abiding in Christ (the vine) enables us to bear fruit, failure to abide results in fruitlessness and consequently God’s judgment.
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” (John 15:5-6)
Similarly, John the Baptist warns that repentance must be evidenced by fruits and warned of judgment if no fruits are seen.
Bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 3:8-10)
In the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25:14-30, while addressing His disciples, Jesus warned that fruitlessness will incur God’s judgment. Jesus condemned the one-talent man who buried his talent and failed to multiply it: “You wicked and lazy servant!” (Matthew 25:26). What happened to him? He was cast into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:30). In contrast, the two servants who multiplied their talents were commended and given fresh responsibilities.
To recapitulate, here are the main points about faithfulness and fruitfulness:
Believers are called not only to bear fruit but abundant fruit, the kind of fruit that lasts. And it is only by abiding in Christ that we can be fruitful (John 15: 5, 8, 16).
Inasmuch as fruitfulness is associated with faithfulness and God’s favour, fruitlessness results in loss of reward and God’s judgment. http://bit.ly/1MA1h8F
So let us bear fruits consistent with our membership in the kingdom of light, forsaking the fruitless deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:8-11).
Knowing that God keeps us faithful till the end is not enough. We have to seek to understand His will for our lives and then live it out. In these end times when evil abounds, it is all the more important that we live intentionally and purposefully.
Christians are all sinners saved by God’s grace. This happens when we put our faith in Christ, whose blood cleanses us from our sins (Ephesians 2:8-9). However, faith is not merely intellectual assent. We must act out our faith. Faith has to be matched by action.
In our eagerness to perform, have we lost out in that which is most essential?
Some believers may lose their eternal rewards BUT, eventually, they are saved. In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, did the foolish virgins merely lose their rewards or much more
Note: Dr Lim Poh Ann is a medical practitioner. He was the former editor of Asian Beacon magazine (Dec 2008 – Oct 2011). He can be reached at his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/AskDrLi
SOURCE OF ARTICLE: http://limpohann.blogspot.my/2017/03/faithful-and-fruitful.html
|Share The Good News|
Dr Lim Poh Ann