Yesterday evening, at Bible study, the guys and I were talking about Christ's classic "Remain in the vine..." monologue. Here's verse 4, just as a reminder: "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." (read John 15:1-17)
So then, because scripture is usually best annotated by more scripture, we turned to Galatians to get some ideas regarding what Jesus possible meant by "bear fruit." This is what we discovered; the words are familiar to most people, but they are exceptionally helpful when paired with John 15. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23)
"So, is Jesus being conditional here," I asked. "Is he suggesting that we have to work hard in order to earn some kind of reward and just offering another kind of legalism? He sure says 'If' a whole lot during the passage..."
"Well no," our resident biologist pointed out. "Fruit isn't something a branch works hard to produce. It shows up because it's connected to the vine."
So we talked about our pressing need - especially as husbands and fathers - for more evidence of patient, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, love, joy, and peace. Typically our response is to work hard on our patience, be more deliberate when it comes to being kind... in other words, "willing" ourselves to be better men.
"If we want to love our wives more," I said, "then the best way is to move closer to Jesus. If we want more patience in our relationships, then we shouldn't try so hard; instead we need to remain more connected to Jesus 'Remain in me...' If we want more kindness at home, then the best approach is to grow in our relationship with Christ...."
We had an excellent discussion. It made me think. It helped me - as I am always doing, several times a week - reassess my priorities if I want to continue to grow.
Grace and Peace - DEREK