He takes away every branch that does not bear fruit in me. He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit . . . I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me – and I in him – bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing. (John 15:2,5, New English Translation)
These spring days are growing warmer, and the apple tree in my back yard is beginning to leaf out. I enjoy watching that tree during every season but especially in the spring. It seems a favorite place for the cardinals to gather in the early morning, and squirrels often run its branches. I wonder if the birds and squirrels have the same question as I do. What fruit, if any, will it provide this year? So far, I’ve not had much luck with that tree. It looks nice but it produces little.
The year I moved into this home, the tree produced an abundance of apples. I was busy getting settled in and paid it little attention. Since I’m no arborist, I didn’t know what to do anyway. I suspected the tree needed fertilizer and perhaps pruning. The second year the blooms looked lovely, but I didn’t see any fruit. The following years were no better. When I mentioned it to friends, some suggested it was the squirrels. But would they eat every budding apple before it could grow? I didn’t know. Last year I saw three apples – total. The birds and the squirrels each tried to claim the meager crop. (The squirrel won. I took a video.)
I wonder how much we are like that apple tree. We look nice but what do we produce? We sit on the church pew each Sunday. We sing the right songs, speak Christianese, and look the part. But is it possible we are only pretty leaves with no fruit? Mark 11:13 tells of when Jesus passed a fig tree and tried to find fruit. It looked good and showed promise of early fruit, but He could find no figs on it. He cursed the tree, and soon it withered and died.
It is the same with our lives. God expects us to bear fruit and will search for it in our lives (Jeremiah 17:10). Am I really serving Him if I produce no fruit? Pretty leaves do not fool Him. They look nice but provide nothing. I desire to be more than just leaves.
“You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree is not able to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good fruit. A good tree is not able to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good fruit. So then, you will recognize them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:16-20, NET).
The child of God is recognized by the quality of fruit produced.
Lord, I realize the secret to bearing quality fruit is to abide in You. It is only when I am connected to the vine that I accomplish Your purpose and bear much good fruit. Prune me as You see fit so that my life will be more than pretty leaves.