What an incredible series on the fruit of the Spirit this has been! In my study of these nine virtues, I’ve learned so much, and part of that learning has come from some very dear friends of mine who graciously have contributed their wisdom to the blog. I’m so thrilled to introduce you to my friend Emily Teterud, and I know that you will be so blessed by what she has to share with you today on “Abiding in Christ to bear much fruit.”
This fruit of the Spirit blog series has been such a great reminder to me of what it means to be a true follower of Jesus. I’m reminded that my walk with the Lord is not a menu of items I try to incorporate into my spiritual diet. Like, Oh! Abiding in Christ! That looks good. I should really try to do that more. And I could really go for some fruit right now…maybe I’ll work on some joy and patience for my next course. Nope. It doesn’t work that way. Those fruits will be evident in our lives when we abide in Christ.
There are key elements of my faith, of my salvation in Christ, that are essential to making it a reality. I don’t choose whether or not I’m going to want to abide in Christ as a Christian. That is what it means to be a Christian. I read in Matthew 7 that we are known by our fruits. Christlike character will be evident in our lives if we truly follow Him.
With that being said, I believe God is gracious to direct our focus to areas where we need some pruning as we grow and bear this fruit that He cultivates. I remember listening to a sermon where I was reminded that it’s not my job to make the fruit. It’s my job to stay attached to the vine and to bear, or carry, the fruit. That should take a load of worry off your plate. You’re not responsible to create this fruit in your life—that’s what Jesus as the vine is for! He is the source.
It’s so important to be constantly evaluating the fruit in our lives. (Am I loving? Am I joyful? Am I peaceful? Etc.) If God has given us a clear picture of what following Him looks like, we should regularly reference that guideline and see the things that are true of Him reflected in us.
I’d love to invite you in to one way I see fruit being cultivated in my life. And if I’m being honest, it’s not the most enjoyable experience. Pruning and cultivating fruit can be messy. We like to envision the orange juice commercials where we see scenic views of the gloved hand gently cradling the fully ripened orange, sunlight kissing the tress as the camera pans across the greens of the orderly rows of the orchard. Ahhh. What a peaceful experience. But in reality—pruning and cultivating fruit is painful. Things get chopped off! Ouch!
I’m bringing you into my journey with the fruit of forbearance. In reading definitions of this word, I get the sense that forbearance is a wise and patient reaction to something that could be harshly dealt with. I have discovered something about myself in recent years—I like black and white answers, I like things to be just and right. If they are not, I want to fix it and fix it now. I want people to understand that it’s fixed. Then we can all move on with life. Don’t mess around. Just do what needs to be done and be done with it. But wow, have I learned that that is not always a reflection of Jesus in the ways I want to react to things.
How humbling it is, as a person who struggles with the ugly sin of pride, to lay aside my indignant desire to make things right when it results in trampling others. How humbling it is to understand that what I thought was the most important thing might not be the most important thing. The branch (that’s me!) doesn’t have the final say—the vine (that’s Jesus!) does.
So, as I let God teach me what it means to bear the fruit of forbearance, I desire less of my agenda and more of God’s agenda. I let go of the things, the plans, the rights that I am clinging onto with tight fists. I breathe in…and breathe out. And I trust that God will guide me in gentleness and wisdom to act on the things that are important to act on, to be silent in areas where they’re not, and to wrap it all up in a heart motivated by love, not selfishness.
Something that always allows me to let out a sigh of relief, especially as I stumble along and fumble bearing the fruit of forbearance, is to remember one of my very favorite verses and probably my most-recited verse personally—James 1:5, which says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
Rest in that promise of wisdom from the true Vine. Then sit back and watch in amazement as you begin to see how He makes His fruit evident in your life.
Emily Teterud, worship leader, singer/songwriter