Like many kids, when I was growing up, I loved various super heroes. I was captivated by the super human abilities these characters possessed and their ability to use them to help others and save the world from various evil threats. But what if these super heroes never used their abilities? What if they just kept them hidden and never exposed their true powers to others? Would they really be a super hero? The answer is, no. What makes them a hero is the actual use of their abilities.
The same question can be asked of a follower of Jesus. Is it possible for someone to be a disciple of Jesus and not give any evidence of their faith? James bluntly says no (James 2:14 – 26). And that is why Jesus says that those who are connected to Him will bear fruit. To be clear, we do not bear fruit in order to be saved. We bear fruit because we are saved.
So what does this fruit look like? We can take a quick survey of the New Testament for several examples. A disciple of Jesus is someone who:
- Experiences joy and satisfaction in Christ – John 15:11
- Grows in holiness and obedience – 1 Peter 1:14,15; Titus 2:11,12; Galatians 5:22,23
- Loves and lives in community with others – Ephesians 4:1 – 3; Philippians 2:3,4
- Uses their spiritual gifts – Romans 12:4 – 8
- Lives a life of generosity – 1 Timothy 6:17 – 19
- Influences others with the truth and power of the gospel – 1 Peter 3:14, 15; Matthew 5:16
These are just some broad categorical examples of the type of fruit we are called to bear as disciples of Jesus. Unfortunately the mentality can creep into our lives that the qualities previously mentioned are for the really spiritual and committed Christian. We don’t all have to bear fruit in those areas. But this distinction does not exist in Scripture.
Now if this list feels overwhelming, we must remember that the key to bearing fruit is abiding. We are called to connect to Jesus through His Word, prayer, and fellowship with a church community and obey what He has commanded while allowing Him to work in and through us.
And we obviously all have room for growth. To say that we are all called to bear fruit does not mean that we are all bearing fruit as much as we should at all times. But the temptation is for us to occasionally hit the spiritual cruise control. We become spiritually complacent and plateau in our faith. Instead we must continually strive to grow in our devotion and love for Jesus. In 1 Thessalonians 4 Paul calls the local church to grow more and more in their love for one another and their desire to obey and please God. We too must continue to grow more and more by abiding and obeying.
So, where do you need to grow? Take time to prayerfully ask God to reveal to you areas in which you need to bear more fruit. And then dive into His Word and ask Him for the grace and power to obey and grow.