It’s one of those questions that you either have an immediate answer for, or, you shake in your boots while you search for something deep to say.
What is your purpose? your kids? your husband or wife? your family? making a difference? God? your work? I think these are the most common answers, but are you sure of your answer?
My pastor recently preached on this subject and I found it to be really introspective. I believe that our lives have many focuses during different seasons; that is where priorities come in to play. As a mom of three little people, they are my current focus. However, that doesn’t mean that I would be left without a purpose if, God forbid, I should lose them. They are not my purpose in life, they are my priority and driving force, but not my ultimate purpose. My husband is my best friend and partner in life. I am responsible for keeping our home and relationship peaceful and harmonious (as is he), but he is not my purpose, he is a priority.
So what is my purpose?
As a Christian, a born again believer in Jesus Christ, my purpose is to bear, or grow, fruit.
No, not oranges and apples, the fruit of the spirit. In Galations 5:22-23, the Bible says: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
If you are a Christian, you have probably heard of the fruit of the Spirt before. It is a familiar concept, even to those who are non-religious because it is widely accepted as the golden standard of behavior. Being kind towards others, being patient, forgiving, being humble…these are all things that we aspire to be. However, have you ever considered the wording and thought about the illustration of fruit and how deeply that representation goes? Having been raised in church, I had heard many sermons on this topic but some new thoughts occurred to me as I listened this past Sunday that I would like to share with you.
Check out this passage in John 15:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
There is so much in that passage, we could go on it for days. Here are a couple quick notes I took on it, I hope that you enjoy it. Please feel free to add more of your own thoughts in the comments so that we can compare notes and learn from each other!
What is the purpose of fruit? To nourish and enjoy the sweetness of it. Now let’s consider the fruits of the spirit; love, hope, humility, joy, peace, patience…all of these are sweet and nursing to those around you. When you bring a sweet spirit into a conversation and lace it with genuine fruits of the spirit, you will find yourself being a blessing to the people around you.
“These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
Have you ever seen a branch be cut from it’s vine and still flourishing and producing fruit? Not so much. In a prior post, we talked about how God is love, and love is the foundation of every single fruit of the spirit. You can not have humility if you are full of anger. You can not be long suffering and patient if you don’t love others more than yourself or your needs. You can not have peace without love.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
No matter your opinion of God or religion, we are all bearing fruit. Your life will produce fruit on its own without the true Vine, but it will not be the fruit of the spirit. If ever you are feeling uncertain about your relationship with God, check on your fruit. If you are consistently growing the fruits of the spirit, you’re growing from the true Vine. If you are struggling to produce the qualities of love, gentleness, meekness, et cetera, you are probably not drawing your strength from the right source. Also, just because you are dedicated to church, does not mean that you will produce the fruits of the spirit. The church is not the true Vine, the church is simply a collection of branches. If you lack a real relationship with Jesus Christ, the one true vine, your church attendance, the sermons you hear, the people you shake hands with, the choir you sing in, the pew with your name on it; none of those things will be worth anything.
“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”
Here is the warning though, if you are not attached and growing, you are dying. There is no in-between loop hole where you are in a state of suspended animation. Personally, I did not inherit my grandmother’s green thumb, most of the plants left in my care end up dead. However, even a brown thumb like me knows that live plants grow or they whither up and die. The passage in John says that “I (Jesus) am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” It sounds so harsh but it’s actually a fair warning. If you abide in the Vine, you will grow in love. If you do not, it will not end well for you. It is not a threat, it is a warning. Just like we give our kids warnings about things that could hurt them, Jesus is warning us, to allow us, the opportunity to stay with Him and be safe and flourish.
The choice is ours, the decision is one of free will. Will we choose the true Vine and produce the sweet fruits of the spirit? Or will we choose to strike out on our own and face the consequences of that decision? If I were honest with you, I would admit to floundering between the two more often than not. Hopefully though, as I grow and as I learn more about my Savior, I will flounder less and root more.