Glory in fruitfulness

Fruitfulness is the first of three avenues Jesus says bring glory. He explains how-

Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. [John 12:24]

What does fruitfulness look like?  The fruitfulness Paul lifts up is the fruit of the Spirit; a love characterised by joy, peace, patience, kindness, … (Galatians 5:22-23 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-7) This is no surprise. Paul writes, “And now these three remain- faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Love is a gift that we receive free of charge through God’s grace. It is a gift we pass on to others when we bring a hopeful joy, when we are patient and kind with those expecting the worst. It is a vibrant, generous life just like Jesus’.

Why does love require us to ‘fall to the ground and die’? Our culture demands that we love ourselves first, and then from a secure base, love others. Dying is not loving ourselves!

Fruitfulness is God’s love expressed through us. If I first love myself, then my love originates in me. Until my ego dies I get in the way of God’s love through self-protection, selfish ambition or vain conceit. Ego love builds barriers leaving me alone.

God’s love is risky. In taking the risk to love we learn to depend on his love, protection and resources and so our lives bring him glory.

Choose Jesus’ way

Jesus talks of how we choose to receive His word. An emphasis on visible results has pushed us towards –

The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.

Results are easy! We can count green shoots of decisions and boast of fruitfulness. But easy come brings easy go –

But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.

Noticing the failure trailing this approach, many abandoned the focus on decisions for a journey into the Christian life. This sounds good, but the thorny issues of life are not dealt with in repentance. So –

The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.

Protecting ourselves and others from Jesus’ cross is producing a fruitless faith. There is however another choice –

But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Mat 13:18-23 (NIV 1984)

Jesus is clear about what this choice involves–

…  unless an ear of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24

Let’s choose Jesus’ way!