How Bearing Spiritual Fruit Requires Rest
Did you know that resting in God is necessary to bear spiritual fruit? Jesus told us in John 15 to “bear fruit.” The verb “bear” means “to hold up, or support.” We need to pay attention to what Jesus does not say here as well. He never said “manufacture fruit,” because that would imply that we should be striving to produce our own fruit. This is different than the theology that I’ve somehow absorbed, because I always looked at this verse and concluded that if I abide in Jesus, I will produce fruit. However, the point is not to keep connected to God as a means to an end. Spiritual fruit is not the goal, Jesus is. The point is not to primarily seek to produce substantial change or growth in myself or the ones around me. It’s actually the opposite of that!
God is the one who is moving and producing that fruit, whether it’s a life transformation, salvation, or repentance, and I am called simply to bear it. God produces the growth and change in each individual (1Corinthians 3:7), not me! Bearing fruit means we are holding up the spiritual growth that God has created, by trusting in His sovereignty. The difference between us holding up that fruit, and us producing it may not seem like a big deal, but the foundation of our relationship with the Lord will determine how we respond to the fruit He has for us.
God’s word tells us that His word is “living and active” in Hebrews 4:12. If God’s word is alive, then that means He’s moving. If he’s moving, then there is a mission, and I want to be on board with it. God is the one who is moving and producing that big, juicy fruit, and we are called to bear it. This is going to require a shift in our mindset if we have learned this concept any other way. I think an illustration would help explain this.
In Acts 4, Peter and John were arrested for preaching about Jesus. They knew Jesus personally and had witnessed His life, death, and resurrection, and were arrested by the religious leaders for testifying of this. However, God had a better plan, and that was for the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon them and for them to be witnesses in Jerusalem and to the rest of the world (Acts 1:8). Unable to find any legal reason to punish Peter and John, the religious leaders released them from their custody and commanded them to stop speaking about Jesus.
In Acts 4:23-31, Peter and John went to their friends and prayed that God would direct them, because they knew that they were meant “to do whatever (God’s) hand and (God’s) plan predestined to occur.” They continued to pray that God would “‘…look upon their threats and grant to Your servants to continue to speak Your word with all boldness, while You stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
It is important to note that Peter, John and their companions were aware of God’s plans to spread the gospel all over the world, and they knew how they were going to do it–by receiving power from the Holy Spirit. Fruit. They were not going out to preach without that boldness, because they knew of the danger that awaited them, and this forced them to rely on God’s supernatural provision. So they gathered together, prayed and waited for their answer. They rested in God, fully expecting Him to give them boldness.
Then, it happened. God shook the place they had gathered, filled them with the Holy Spirit, and gave them the boldness they had asked for. The people went out and spoke with confidence, and the many who believed became unified in heart and soul, and many miraculous events took place immediately after.
The most important thing we can do is to rest in Jesus! We get it wrong when we require more from ourselves than God has asked us to give. When I realized that the production of spiritual fruit was never my burden to bear, but instead that it rests upon Jesus, I can breathe a little bit easier knowing that He is in control. I’ve experienced how spiritual growth can look when I try to produce it out of my own strength, will power, and resources. I know that God can still move through my weak efforts, yet when I am not abiding in God’s love and listening for His direction, I am wasting my time!
We need to love Jesus first! And spending time with Him is the only way we will ever see fruit in our lives and in the lives around us. Because the truth is that God doesn’t need us to change the world, but He chooses us anyway, by offering us a relationship with Him. Ask God this week to show you how you can rest in Him, and to give you a fresh perspective on bearing fruit. I fully believe and it is my prayer that God will show you His heart for your ministry, whatever it is, and that He will remind you that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Because when we are fully resting in His will, He is sure to produce rapid, generous and long-lasting fruit in our lives.
By: Susan Kurtz