Broken things. Complicated relationships. Financial crisis. Character testing. Everything that life challenges us—Jesus said to remain in Him. (John 15)
For the past five months, this has always been God’s Word for me. This short statement of Jesus, I believe, is not just for me, but for you too. It’s tough when God has to trim something in our lives and cut unhealthy branches in order for us to grow and produce more fruit. It’s hard to remain in His love when our own enemy is ourselves, our flesh. It’s not easy when He asks of our hearts, when all we desire is our own. But again, who is our Lord?
John 15: 2 “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
I remember when God was dealing me with my pride, on how I didn’t want to honor my parents; on how I didn’t want to pursue respect and responsibility as a daughter. It was backbreaking because I, in my human self, am prideful. God was telling me to honor them even if it seems impossible for my character to go with the flow. I tried, and yet I failed. Weeks passed, I walked away from God. Consequences came the road and I was asking why I was going through such things. Little did I realize, He was disciplining me. I stumbled upon John 15:9-10, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love…” In other words, if I love God, I will abide in His commands. If we love God, we will remain in Him.
God disciplines us all because of love.
Abiding in Jesus doesn’t mean you have to be active in church, handle ministries or speak in congregations. It means to have a real and genuine connection with Him. Obeying God would and may seem the hardest path to take, but in the long run, it is the only lifestyle that gives real peace and genuine joy. Most of the time, in our own human selves, we think we are strong and clever enough to be independent to bear fruit. Truth is, we cannot do anything apart from Him that’s why we’re supposed to be attached to the root that will make us grow healthy and strong in the Spirit. The problem with us is we forget that it is only Jesus that is working through us to bear fruit.
We’re in a world where God places us in situations, in people and in places where He wants us to grow more and to seek more of His precepts. We may not understand yet, but as we abide in Jesus, we will be the changed person that He wants us to be. We will be the transformed children of God that He desires us to be.
I remember also when I asked God why He placed me in my family when I had tough moments of honoring them. He wasn’t done yet. He continued, “…but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit…” (John 15:16) BOOM. That was the moment I cried so hard, because more than honoring my parents, He chose me, and He wants me to bear fruit and be a witness of His love—a testimony of grace, honor, self-control, gentleness and patience. It’s amazing how God spots us in different kinds of situations for us to learn and to be more intimate with Him.
Fruit-bearing doesn’t just mean to be smart, brave, good-looking or reading the Bible everyday; whatever our gifts and accomplishments we may have, we cannot produce fruit apart from Jesus.
If we want to love like Jesus, then don’t love on your own. If we want to be patient like Him, then don’t try producing patience on your own strength. In other words, if we want to have a Christ-like character, remember that it is not produced on self-effort. Don’t focus on your deeds; focus on your walk with God, and the deed will grow naturally out of your relationship.