“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing….“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
John 15:5, 11
What brings you joy in life? That will look different for all of us. Some of find joy in nature, some find joy in family, some find it in careers, and others find it in success. Rejoicing in those things is perfectly fine, in fact we need to rejoice in those things recognizing that the blessings and good things we have in life are a gift from God. But, what happens when those things change or stop? What happens to our joy when the career ends, or the family moves away, or we aren’t finding the success we had hoped for? What then?
Jesus gives us a lesson on joy in John 15. This passage talks about Jesus being the vine and us being the branches. He goes on this long explanation about if we want to bear fruit we have to stay connected to the vine. If we are not connected to the vine we will not bear fruit. We like our fruit, in fact we find great joy in our fruit. Wouldn’t you consider the things you thought of earlier as fruit in your life? I, however, don’t think Jesus is speaking only of those things. I also think He is talking about things like the fruit of the Spirit as mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. But, however you view fruit understand this – there is no fruit apart from the vine. There is no joy apart from the vine. If you want joy and you want fruit you have to abide in Jesus.
We may go through seasons where we aren’t seeing much fruit, maybe even no fruit. But, that doesn’t mean we should give up. This passage talks about the non-fruit bearing branches being taken away. But, the problem with those branches isn’t the fact that they aren’t producing fruit, it is that they have disconnected from the vine. They are no longer abiding. We know god looks at the heart while we look at appearance. So, fruit is all we can see. A lack of fruit doesn't mean your heart is dead, it may just mean you are in a difficult (or pruning) season. God is the vinedresser who cares for us to make sure we can produce fruit.
So, if you are in a difficult seasons and aren’t seeing much fruit. Stay connected to Jesus. He is the source of life and joy – and fruit. Stick with Him – the fruit and the joy will come.
Pastor Matt Huff leads Portland Central Nazarene Church. He loves being in ministry and seeing lives transformed by the power of Christ.