Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.John 15:4–5 NKJV
When I was growing up, my dad owned an engineering company that performed land surveying. At just eight years old, I started surveying with him on weekends. He’d give me a machete (not sure I’d give any of my kids or grandkids a machete at that age!) and teach me how to cut vines and branches that were in the way of the property line. I remember early on my dad told me to watch out for the “wait a minute” vine. Obviously, that’s not the official name of the vine; it’s just what we called them because you’d be walking along and then get caught in the vine’s thorns and have to yell, “Wait a minute!”
In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). He doesn’t mean He’s a prickly “wait a minute” vine. He also doesn’t mean He’s the kind of vine you’d find Tarzan swinging on in the jungle. The word vine in this verse is translated as “grapevine.” So Jesus is really saying that He’s a fruit-producing grapevine. And what kind of fruit does He produce? “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”—the fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23 NLT).
It’s interesting to note that when a grapevine goes through a struggle or experiences adversity, such as extreme weather conditions, the vine produces heartier and healthier grapes, which in turn result in a higher quality of wine. The same is true of people. People who bear really good fruit are the ones who remain in a committed relationship with Christ when they’re pressed or go through a struggle. They display kindness when they could easily complain. They stay faithful and loving when their marriage goes through a difficult season. They show self-control when they’re mistreated. They demonstrate patience when their children have to learn the same lessons over and over. They stay connected to the Vine—Jesus—and it shows through the sweetness of their fruit.
So what does Jesus mean when He says those who abide in Him bear much fruit? You might think this word means “to produce,” yet it actually means “to carry.” There’s quite a difference between these two! As the Vine, Jesus is the only one who can produce the fruit. That’s not our responsibility—we just carry it. Think about a fruit tree. If you cut off a single branch, it stops producing fruit, and eventually, it dies. But when that branch remains connected to the rest of the tree, it eventually bears fruit.
Similarly, those who stay connected to Jesus—to the Vine—bear fruit, while those who don’t abide in Him “can do nothing.” That’s pretty clear language, right? Yet we so often think that if we just try hard enough and use all our might, we can somehow produce fruit on a broken branch! No, Jesus says the key to bearing the fruit of His Spirit is the word abide. But what does this really mean? The word abide means to “stay in one place for a long time.” And the root of the word implies staying through struggle or adversity.
So why is it important to stay connected to the Vine when we face challenges in life? It doesn’t matter whether the challenge is relational, financial, mental, or physical—whatever it is, it’s vital to stay connected to Jesus because He alone is the source of all life. When we aren’t connected to Him, we wither up and die.
However, when we do abide in Jesus, pressing in and staying connected to Him when things are good and when things are bad, we bear sweet, appealing fruit. This serves two incredible purposes. The first is to display God’s nature to the world. And the second is so people can eat it! In other words, simply by encountering you or being in relationship with you, people can “taste and see that the LORD is good!” (See Psalm 34:8.) They can see the fruit of the Spirit in your life.
Throughout the remaining 20 days of this devotional, you’ll read encouraging stories and principles from various writers about how the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in your life. You’ll discover areas of your life where you’re already displaying this fruit and areas where you can grow and mature. You’ll learn there’s more to the fruit of the Spirit than just being nice. But if you only remember one thing from this 21-day journey, remember this: abide in the Vine. You don’t need to produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life; you simply need to bear it. And if you abide in Him—if you stay constantly connected to Jesus through struggle and hardship as well as prosperity and abundance—the more fruit you’ll carry to a dark and broken world.