We live on a hill, and when there is a windstorm, we really feel it. A couple of years ago we had a day of powerful wind. It was a Saturday, and I was in the kitchen. Tom stood in the family room watching the trees bend under the onslaught. All of a sudden, I heard Tom yell, and there was a tremendous crash. I felt the floor shake under our feet.
An enormous branch from a very tall tree in our back yard had broken off and crashed to the ground. Thankfully, no children were playing outside underneath, because it would have killed anyone below instantly.
We had to wait a while for tree specialists to come and cut up the huge branch and haul it away. Day after day I watched that branch out the window. The leaves on the branch stayed green for a long time. You would never have known at first that they had been cut off from their life source. But before long, the green leaves began to slowly wither and turn brown. In a short time, what had been healthy, green leaves were dead.
That picture stayed with me as I thought about the metaphor it was for our Christian lives. We are told clearly by our Savior that we will only bear good fruit if we stay “in the vine.” But we tend to move away from the only source of our spiritual strength. Our fruit withers and disappears. We become brittle. When we are outside of that vine, we have removed ourselves from the life-giver, Jesus Christ.
Without the life from the tree, the branch could do nothing. It certainly could not produce more leaves. The same is true in our Christian life. Outside of Christ, the only fruit we can produce is the fruit of the flesh, which poisons the spiritual life we have in Christ. That rotten fruit has to go when we are in Christ, and is replaced with the fruit of the Spirit. What do our fruits look like when we are living in our flesh? Scripture tell us straight out in Galatians, chapter 5.
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
So what are the fruits of the Spirit in our lives?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
If we abide in Christ, we know exactly what our fruit will look like. If we are living in the flesh, we also know, because God’s Word spells it out.
We aren’t left to guess work and speculation about how our lives change when we are “in Christ.” We know. And if we lack those fruits, we are told that we can get them by asking. In the same passage from John 5, Jesus says this in verse 17:
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done to you.”
So if we need patience, we can have it. If we need goodness and kindness, we can find it. We need only ask, and the Lord Jesus Christ will give it to us. What wonderful news that is! The key is to stay in the Vine, and the life of Christ will flow through us to all of those around us. Praise the Lord.