Apple trees produce apples. Orange tree produce oranges. I suppose if there was an ice cream tree, it would produce beautiful, vanilla bean ice cream. After all, that is the best flavor on God’s green Earth. The point is that you don’t get watermelons from lemon trees. We know what kind of fruit we are supposed to produce.
As believers, the fruit (notice I didn’t say fruits) of the Spirit is rich, juicy, and plump. In Galatians, we learn the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are the elements of this one single fruit. These are not all different fruits or they would come from different sources, but this is THE fruit of the Holy Spirit. The more we remain in the Spirit or the more we remain in the True Vine of Jesus Christ, this is the fruit that we will produce. We will have more of all of these. Think of these as different parts of one fruit. A fruit tree grows the whole fruit together with all of its parts. Let me show you how well I can use google: The fruit consists of the seed, which is composed of the endosperm, embryo, seed coat. The fruit also has the endocarp, the mesocarp and the exocarp. All of these grow together. We only eat the mesocarp and exocarp, but all of these parts are growing. You never see a peach hanging on a tree that is only seed, or only the skin, or only the meat of the fruit (mesocarp). In the same way, the fruit we produce when we remain in the Vine of Jesus Christ, our life will produce love, joy, peace, patience, etc. for others to consume and be blessed by. We make their life sweeter.
When Jesus said that He was the True Vine, He was actually comparing Himself to the nation of Israel. The Lord referred to Israel as the vine originally. In Psalm 80, it says that the Lord transplanted a vine from Egypt. In Isaiah 5, it says the vineyard of the Lord is the nation of Israel. So when Jesus came and declared Himself to be the True Vine, He was supplanting the nation of Israel because Israel had not produced the elements needed within the vine to allow the branches to produce fruit. Israel was a theocracy, a kingdom, with laws. Those laws included loving your neighbor, even foreigners, as yourself (Leviticus 19:33-34). It was the law of Israel that people would not harvest their entire crop, but instead they were supposed to leave the edges for the poor and the foreigner to glean from (Leviticus 23:22). But Israel did not do these things. The poor and the foreigner were treated as unworthy and unclean and dismissed. The nation of Israel as a kingdom was not a healthy vine so the people of Israel never produced the fruit of God.
When the Lord planted the vine of Israel, He expected them to produce righteousness and justice. Think of these as the nutrients flowing through the vine into the branches to then produce fruit. When says He is the True Vine, He also says that we are the branches feeding off of Him as the vine then producing fruit for others to consume. In order for the branches, that’s you and I, to produce the fruit of the Spirit, we have to receive the nutrients of righteousness and justice from the vine. Sheesh! I know that was just a lot of information, but bear with me!
Jesus came as the True Vine in righteousness and justice. Justice is doing what is right by someone. It does not mean doing what they want. If they have done wrong, justice gives punishment. If they have done right, justice rewards. Now righteousness is the heart of justice. It makes justice personal. So yes, Jesus came in righteousness, which is doing what is right according to someone’s actions. But when righteousness is joined with justice, the element of unconditional love is added. So Christ established the law, but with added unconditional love and mercy. So if we do wrong, there is punishment, but there is also forgiveness. There is also mercy. There is also a fresh start. Do you get what I am sayin’?
Now, as we remain in the vine, we receive His righteousness and justice, His love, which produces in us this wonderful fruit. If we don’t receive the nutrients, we can’t produce the fruit. Wow, is this sinking in? There are lots of people, Christians, who would quickly verbalize that God loves them, but do they operate in that love. To know that my wife loves me is good, but to be in her embrace and to hear the love tones in her words to me is different. Knowing God loves me and experiencing His love are two different things. We want to produce fruit, right? Producing fruit is where the wonderful plans of God for our life can be found, but until I experience the love, the justice, and righteous of Christ, there is no fruit. This is why Christ says, “Remain in me.”
How do we remain in the Vine? In John 15:10, Jesus says, “If you keep my commands, you will remain in me.” What!?! How does obeying keep me in Him experiencing the justice, righteousness, and love, the nutrients to produce fruit in my life? The secret to living a Godly life is that we are called to love others as Christ has loved us, even when we were not loving Him back. We are to love everyone especially when they are not loving us in return. I don’t have time to expound on love, but let me just say that love does not mean to do what others want all of the time. But the effect on me loving those who don’t return it is that I see how much God loves me because my behavior toward Him was much worse than other’s behavior towards me. And His love for me in the fact of how I treated Him went as far as dying on the cross. As much as I try to love others as Christ loved me and sacrifice for them as He did for me, the greater understanding and experience I have of how deep is His love for me. If I don’t obey and refuse to love, I will never know the depths of His love. I will not remain in Him. I will not receive the nutrients and I will be cut off like a dead branch laying on the ground. But the promise is that if we remain in Him, He will remain in us and our life will produce much fruit. To God be the glory!
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (NIV)
Heavenly Father, the person that I am is not all that I want to be. I want to be a life-changer and a difference-maker. But let the truth that this is impossible for me to do without remaining in You, the True Vine. Help me to love others, especially when they can't or won't love me back, and as I do, let it draw such a vivid picture of your love for me that I fall deeper into love for you every day. Let your nutrients of righteousness, justice, and love flow through me and may I produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and the self-control that I might be a blessing; that I might be blessed: and that all would know that You are the God who loves. -Amen