John 15:1-5 “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.”
In vine tending there are only two kinds of branches. Those that bear fruit are tended to and cared for. Those that do not bear fruit are simply thrown into a fire and burned since the wood is too soft to be used for anything profitable (Ezekiel 15:1-5). Building off of this understanding, Jesus teaches that unbelievers who are not connected to Him are incapable of bearing supernatural spiritual fruit and are therefore cut off and tossed into the fire (John 15:6).
But, believers who abide in Jesus are privileged to pray to the Father who will answer prayers requesting fruitful living, providing the intention of their fruitfulness is not their own glory but the Father’s (John 15:8). Jesus reveals that the key to such fruitfulness is the love He shares with the Father and lavishes upon His people, and it is this love that causes us to gladly obey His commands which subsequently causes us to bear fruit (John 15:9-10).
As God answers our prayers, lavishes love upon us, and enables us to bear fruit in our lives, Jesus teaches that we become continually more joyful (John 15:11). This joy then spills out of us as sacrificial love for others, particularly the friends He has given us (John 15:12-13). In this fruitful life of prayer, joy, and love we are friends of Jesus who are showing forth His abiding in us, and our abiding in Him (John 15:14-15).
But how have we come to this place of such kindness and opportunity? In one of the strongest statements regarding election in all of Scripture, Jesus says that we did not choose Him, but rather He has chosen us and sent us into this world to pray for the grace to bear much fruit that will endure as we live in love with Him and one another (John 15:16-17).
This fruit of prayer in the form of obedience, love, joy and friendship with God is nothing more than the inevitable harvest of fruitful living that results from abiding in Jesus as He abides in us.
What practical things help you to abide in relationship with Jesus so that the life of the Spirit can flow from Jesus to you like a vine and branch (e.g. prayer, worship, Bible reading, etc.)?