The Proof of Discipleship: Bearing Good Fruit
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to by my disciples.
“We don’t smoke. We don’t chew. And we don’t go with girls who do.” That about sums up what some people think it means to be a Christian. In their minds, what sets a Christ follower apart is what he or she does not do.
I don’t know about yours, but this doesn’t ring true in my experience. I know plenty of people who don’t smoke or chew who aren’t Christ followers. I also know some Christ followers who smoke and chew.
Jesus said we show ourselves to be his disciples by bearing much fruit. But we can get so focused on keeping the weeds out of the vineyard that we forget to check to see if there’s even any good fruit growing there. As one writer put it, “True spirituality does not consist in what one does not do, it is rather what one does. It is not suppression: it is expression. It is not holding in self: it is living out Christ.”
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good,” Jesus said, “or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33). The point is that a true disciple of Christ can be recognized by the good fruit of his or her life—fruit that’s consistent with the character of Christ.
The apostle Paul refers to this good fruit as “the fruit of the Spirit.” He says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). These virtues, which the Holy Spirit produces in us, are the fruit of our discipleship to Jesus.
Our fruitfulness is inevitable when we remain in Christ. Jesus promised that “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit” (John 15:5). As Andrew Murray points out,
If Christ, the heavenly Vine, has taken the believer as a branch, then He has pledged Himself, in the very nature of things, to supply the sap and spirit and nourishment to make it bring forth fruit.
A true disciple will bear good fruit. We have Christ’s word on it.
Lewis Sperry Chafer, He That is Spiritual (Wheaton, IL: Van Kampen Press, 1918), 68.
Andrew Murray, Abide in Christ (Fort Washington,PA: Christian Literature Crusade, n. d.), 115.