In my previous post, I attempted to provide clarity around the nature of the relationship we have with Christ, namely Him as Master, and us as slave. In this follow up post I would like to identify for what reason Christ has purchased us. Obviously, He has purposed us to enjoy Him and be enjoyed by Him, but He has also prepared good works for us to walk in.
I believe the main purpose of the believer is to Glorify God. How do we glorify God? By bearing fruit. I have spoken to many believers, and besides the fact that most struggle with putting sin to death, the number one concern for most is: bearing fruit. Some have fallen into such a state of depression because they do not see the fruit in their lives. John 15:8. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. The next logical question I have asked myself is – What does the fruit look like? Is it making disciples? Is it works of ministry? Healing the sick? What is the fruit we are to bear?
One of the most obvious conclusions to draw is to immediately assume that the fruit we are to bear, are the fruit of the Spirit. This is not an incorrect assumption to make – it does clearly say Fruit of the Spirit and it is not incorrect. But I am convinced that the fruit of the Spirit are consummated and expressed in one overarching fruit. I am going to throw out a couple of scriptures, and then we will examine what the fruit is, although, you should be able to see a thread pulling through all of the text:
John 13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 14:15 If you love me, keep my commands
John 14:21-26 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Gal 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love
Gal 5:13-26 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
1 John 4:7-21 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
It is clear from the text that the fruit we are to bear is LOVE! Now these are only a few of the scriptures to try to point out to us what fruit we are to bear. If you would read through the gospels and epistles you would see this come through in almost every single letter. Paul even goes as far as to say that Spiritual Gifts are outweighed by Love. Love is a big deal. It is the mandate of the Christian – to love as He has loved us.
Notice how love is contrasted to not walking in the flesh, and then is accompanied by walking in the Spirit. The same is true in John 14 – The Lord speaks about love, and it is smack bang in the middle of His discourse on the promise of the Holy Spirit. Here we find a clue to the answer to our second question – which is How do we bear fruit?
Now I am not a farmer, but one thing I know is – No fruit grows by its own effort or strength of will and determination. The growth of fruit is completely dependent on factors beyond its control. Furthermore, no apple tree has ever produced oranges. The growth of fruit is entirely dependent on its connection to the tree and it’s roots, and the type of fruit produced is directly connected to the nature of the tree it stems from.
In order to reach an answer to our second question, we have to look at what type of love do the scriptures intend or require from us? Once again, the English language falls short in conveying the depth of the word love used in these verses. We must understand that when the word love appears in scripture, there are 4 Greek words, which are all translated as love. The first word:
- Phileō: is a companionable love. ii. This love speaks of affection, fondness, or liking. Phileō is a love that responds to kindness, appreciation, or love. It involves giving as well as receiving; but when it is greatly strained, it can collapse in a crisis.
- Storge: This love has its basis in one’s own nature. ii. Storgē is a natural affection or natural obligation iii. It is a natural movement of the soul for husband, wife, child or dog. iv. It is a quiet, abiding feeling within a man that rests on something close to him and that he feels good about.
- Eros: This love is erotic love ii. Eros is a love of passion, an overmastering passion that seizes and absorbs itself into the mind. iii. It is a love that is an emotional involvement based on body chemistry. iv. The basic idea of this love is self-satisfaction.
As we can see from all of these translations of love, the love is inspired/kindled by self, or given in response to love from another. But none of these words for love are used in these verses we have read. The word used as love here is:
- Agape/Agapao – properly, to prefer, to love; for the believer, preferring to “live through Christ“ (1 Jn 4:9,10), i.e. embracing God’s will (choosing His choices) and obeying them through His power. (agapáō) preeminently refers to what God prefers as He “is love” (1 Jn 4:8,16). (agapē). With the believer, /agapáō (“to love”) means actively doing what the Lord prefers, with Him (by His power and direction). True /agapáō (“loving”) is always defined by God – a “discriminating affection which involves choice and selection” is Christ living His life through the believer. In other words, it is love which originates from God, and is always self-denying in nature.
WOW!!! Doesn’t that put everything into perspective? So when Jesus says: “If you love me, you will obey my commandments” What He is really saying is: If you submit yourself to my rulership as Lord, and allow me to live my life through you – I will provide the power and direction for you to keep my commandments and bear fruit– namely to love others as only He is able to love.
I don’t know about you, but I am a selfish human being. I tend to only like to hang out with people who like me, and better yet – my sphere of love spans no further than my front door, unless the person can give me something in return. How wicked is my heart! The expectations the Lord has placed on me is too great! I cannot love as He requires me to love. I have only one option, but to submit myself to Him, and allow Him to work through me! We are but vessels through which Christ can move powerfully, to love the world, as only He Himself is able to.
The Apostle Paul says the following about love. 2 Corinthians 5:14. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. This is not the idea of love that we have grown accustomed to in our daily talk. We have limited love to a mere emotional feeling. In essence love is a constraining agent. When we consider the price paid for us – the love demonstrated by Christ compels us to turn away from our will, and willingly submit to our Masters will. Love brings us to a place where we say, I cannot do this, unless You do it in and through me Lord. Love brings us to the place of denying ourselves, so that He may be all in us. It is LOVE working in us, and LOVE working through us!
Here is the fascinating part about being enslaved to Christ. Not only do we have a master who gives us great works to accomplish and do, but He Himself is the strength and ability to do the work. Not only does He do the work in and through you, but he gives you the will and desire to WANT to do the work.
Death precedes a Harvest
Jesus says in John 12:24-25: Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
The requirement for fruit bearing is clear – DIE! Give up your rights! Deny yourself! Confess your inability to produce anything of eternal value! If you want to truly mature in your walk with the Lord, if you want to be effective in the work of ministry, if you want to accomplish great things for the Lord, and ultimately love as He requires – the answer is simple – Be enslaved to Jesus! Jesus, though He was fully man and fully God, chose to deny Himself and be completely submitted to the will and work of the Father. He was enslaved to the will of the Father – His master!
This relationship between slave and master, is not one of abuse, but one characterized by love for the purpose of love! A love which says: Master, you have prepared good works for me to do. In my own strength I cannot live up to your standards and requirements. Yet you have not left me on my own. You are the one who works within me to please Yourself. I submit myself to You as slave.