Summary: God expects us not only to be 'faithful', but also fruitful!
Believers who are “M.A.D.”
“A Life of Fruitfulness”
* One of the untruths which have been embraced within the Americanized church is the concept that the redeemed, born-again, and believers in Christ only have to be faithful, not fruitful. IN this age when churches are declining and disintegrating before our very eyes, this type of belief is comforting. If we are simply expected to be faithful and we define faithfulness is attending all the services, giving our money, and serving on a committee (which, in many cases, rarely meet), then we are ‘off the hook’ when the local church closes.
* May I debunk this untruth for us? According to our text (plus other text) we discover very clearly that being fruitful is indeed the divine desire for those who name Christ as Savior.
* Consider this; how many among us would spend time preparing a garden and planting seed being satisfied with a tomato plant just simply looking like a tomato plant. Isn’t it true that we expect our beans, peas, corn, okra, and all the rest to produce fruit? To finish this thought, it is equally true that God has planted us and for the believer, He has planted Himself IN us, and expects the same thing. It seems to me that authentic believers desire to be fruitful in God’s Kingdom, but maybe are unsure as to ‘how to’ accomplish this.
* Considering this truth I am reminded of a statement made years ago by Coach Tom Landry. He said, “The job of a football coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do, that they may become what they’ve always wanted to be.” It seems to me that scripture teaches us, there is no doing without the being and there is no being without the doing.
* As you know, we have been talking about Believers who are M.A.D. (that is, making a difference). As we talk about fruitfulness, let see it in 3 slices;
1. The expectations for a fruitful life – Even a cursory reading of God’s word leads us to recognize that our Lord expects fruitfulness in our lives.
a. It is a divine expectation – Look at the imagery in this text. Jesus is the vine (a healthy vine grows) and Jehovah is the vinedresser (who wants the vine to produce). Simply put, the fruit which the Father is looking for a reconnection with His crown creation. For us to gain that connection with the Father requires us to have a changed life. The fruit of Jesus is changed lives. The mission Jesus passed on to us (As the father sent me so send I you) is to be a part of the process.
b. It is a determined expectation - Keep the imagery in mind, the vinedresser works with the vine so that the limbs can receive all they need to produce good fruit. Honestly, the vinedresser is determined to have a crop. And in His determination, He has stopped at nothing to see it come to pass. In the death & resurrection of Jesus, God gave His best for us.
A Life of Fruitfulness – Pg 2
c. It is a developing expectation – Consider what this scripture teaches about being ‘fruitful’. There are distinctly 4 levels of fruit-bearing seen here, which are; no fruit, fruit, more fruit, and much fruit. There is a cost for every level of this fruit production, but God’s expectation is for His people to produce much fruit. The expectation is for much GOOD FRUIT. Everyone produces fruit, but not all is good. Jesus, in Matthew 7, clearly states that we are known by the fruit we produce.
2. The essentials for a fruitful life – If I want to produce good fruit or fruit in keeping with repentance, how exactly does this come about?
a. Properly Planted - Jesus says, “Every branch IN ME” – this is the secret. Without a close walk with Christ, a moment by moment awareness of His presence and leadership, and a desire to allow Him to change your life. This journey begins at the cross with repentance and confession. The letter to Ephesus begins with the importance of this truth (Read Eph. 1:3-13)
b. Professional Pruned – I have no green thumb, but I know that you can prune for many reasons. You can prune for safety, health, aesthetics, and even growth. The interesting thing is that you cut back the tree to allow it to reach new heights. God takes the people who is producing fruit, applies the pruning knife, and then give the opportunity to provide new growth. Here is the catch: Pruning requires a sharp instrument and most of us stay away from sharp instruments. This is what James meant when he wrote, “Count it all joy when you fall into various testing.”