John 15:8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
I might be the world's worst gardener. I don't have a green thumb; I have a brown thumb. Any poor plant I touch perishes. One day though someone gave me a cactus. Surely even I could rise to the challenge of keeping a cactus alive. What do they even need except harsh treatment, limited nutrients and utter neglect? Wonder of wonders, this cactus not only lived, it thrived. In fact, it did not shrink even one bit in size under my loving care. Several years later I would realize that it was plastic.
Today's passage is the 15th Chapter of John. This chapter might well be titled the fruit chapter. Given my experience with plants, I tend to shy away from drawing too much analogy out of its' words. Even Mrs. Brownthumb though, can recognize that a tree loaded down with apples is in fact an apple tree. That is the central point of this chapter. My life ought to be so loaded down with His qualities that even the person with the most distant relationship with God can recognize His work in my life. Now that's a bigger challenge than keeping a plastic cactus alive!
Let's explore God's gardening tips:
- Good Soil Makes Healthy Plants - Throughout this section, the word remain or abide is used. God wants me to dwell in Him, to literally put down roots in Him. The bigger the roots are the more stable the plant. The apples I casually observe on a tree are the result of a complicated root system I can not see. If a person observes even the smallest evidence of God's work in my life, it is the direct result of many hours of time spent with God alone which that person did not see. God's Word is the best possible soil in which to cultivate my root system.
- Soak Up the Son - Above the roots, grows the first thing we can see - the stem. In Verse 5, Jesus remarks, "Apart from me you can do nothing." As I was reading this chapter, I was picturing myself being a plant and thinking how comical it would be if the plant could talk. I seriously doubt a plant would say, "Now I'm not really sure I want any water today" or "I really don't have any time in my schedule for sun." A plant just does what it was created to do. When Jesus said that apart from Him I could nothing, what He was really saying is that I could do no good things without Him. There might still be fruit hanging on my tree, it just wouldn't be anything that people want to see and surely not anything they'd want to actually pick or eat.
- Choose Your Flower Carefully - I have never seen someone at the Botanical Gardens digging in the dirt to photograph the roots or laying on their back to snapshot the stem. However, pictures of the flowers are typically being shot at a frenzied, paparazzi pace. That's because the flower is the part we actually came to see. In this chapter, the "flower" or "fruit" is love. The natural by-product of time spent with God and total dependence on Jesus is love. If I could pick just one word for someone to describe my marriage, home or family, I would pray this would be the word.
Sweet Jesus, today You faithfully came again to meet with me. This has been the "root" work in my day. From here, I want to walk about on the stability of your stem in total dependence on You, flowering with Your love.