Apple: Keep Growing
In John 17:4 (AMPC), Jesus prayed to the Father, saying:
I have glorified You down here on the earth by completing the work that You gave Me to do.
As Christ-followers, made in His image, it is clear we are here to produce the Lord fruit with our lives. This fruit springs from a pure inner desire to be kind and to connect with God and with others. The idea of “fruit-bearing” for the Lord can overwhelm us, but it does not have to.
It is entirely possible to rest in work.
Fruit is a product of the Holy Spirit indwelling every Christian. In Galatians 5:22-23a, Paul describes God’s presence within us according to His Holy character:
But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence).
On a dirt trail running through Nebraska, I found two old apple trees, loaded with so much fruit the branches touched the ground. There were no houses within miles of these fruit trees. I walked by them often and one day I mentioned them so someone in passing—Who planted those apple trees? All of that fruit is going to waste.
I was told there was once a country schoolhouse out there, open for many years. The people did not have many material possessions back then—including food. A farmer planted those apple trees so the children, who walked to and from school many miles, would have something to eat in due season. Now, the school is gone. There is only the crumbled remnants of a stone foundation tucked under the long grass. The children are no longer there. It seems they have scattered to the four winds. But those fruit trees—a simple idea from a kindhearted farmer—are still producing fruit seventy years later.
It is interesting to consider the things that outlast.
In John 17:5, Jesus continues:
And now, Father, glorify Me along with Yourself and restore Me to such majesty and honor in Your presence as I had with You before the world existed.
Here, Jesus is looking forward to His Heavenly reward for the completion of all the assignments God had given Him to fulfill during His time on the earth. In John 17:10a, He says to the Father, “All [things that are] Mine are Yours, and all [things that are] Yours belong to Me…”
If you are anything like me, sometimes we feel as though all we get accomplished is “trying”. Months pass by, maybe years, and it seems our efforts are not producing as we had hoped. So, we try harder! It is interesting to note that the word “try” is not used in the Word of God such as we know it today. Rather, it is meant as a “test”. Many of our trials on earth become more difficult due to our own performance-based anxiety. But here we see Jesus Christ Himself being PATIENT with fruit-bearing for God. We know we labor in vain unless the Lord builds the house, but if all things God has also belong to Jesus, and we are invited into this continual Source, why are we not more accomplished by now?
Jesus answers us in John 16:33:
I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]
Here we have permission to lay down frustration and performance-based anxiety and pick up peace and confidence in God. Jesus assures us that the world cannot rob holy productivity from us—it cannot harm us; it cannot stop the will of God; it cannot hinder our effectiveness. We can be happy while we continue in those things God wills for us. We can be as peaceful in our work as an apple tree on a county lane.
Fruit trees rely upon the Creator to plant them, nourish them, protect them, and
To produce through them—all according to design.
We can rely on our Creator, too.
In and around John 17, Jesus mentions JOY numerous times (15:11; 16:20, 22, 24).
And now I am coming to You; I say these things while I am still in the world, so that My joy may be made full and complete and perfect in them [that they may experience My delight fulfilled in them, that My enjoyment may be perfected in their own souls, that they may have My gladness within them, filling their hearts; John 17:13].
It is plain to see throughout His discourse that:
We are here to produce fruit for God.
We have Heavenly rewards for the fulfillment of holy assignments on earth.
God is generous, sharing Himself in every way.
We are not to worry.
We are to be full of joy.
The prolific fruit those two old trees are heavy-laden with may seem to be wasted, but God had me walking there to see them, and He prompted me to encourage you by their example of lifelong endurance. Those trees clearly "bloom where they are planted" and continue on in the purpose for which they were created. You see, God created fruit trees with years of production in mind, and He created you and me to fulfill a lifelong calling. With His Good Spirit, He moves on every human heart to contribute to others while on the earth. That farmer could have planted those trees on his own land, but he chose to think of others. Likewise, though we may feel as though we are not doing enough, we can learn from that single farmer and those two apple trees he planted—and we can do good anyway. We can do our part and trust God with the results. You see...
LOVE IS NEVER WASTED.
Like the Holy Spirit, love goes on forever. Love remains after everything else fades away. I encourage you today to do the thing the Lord had you be born for, and do not apologize for it.
In my field, it is noteworthy to mention that an author’s main competition in book sales is not with other contemporary writers. It is with the Matthew Henry’s of the world that God prompted to write three hundred years ago. My desk is piled with words from the masters. You see, Jesus was not in such a “performance-based” rush because He understood that God alone is good, and in God’s goodness lies the quality and quantity of ETERNITY. Anything and everything done purely for God, with the heart motive to please Him, and to love other people, will go on forever.
You can rest while the Holy Spirit works within and around you.
Like those old apple trees, no matter where the Lord has you planted, produce fruit anyway. Like cream rises to the top, so does the quality of a human soul. God’s reason for you being born will benefit many.
God bless you.
Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible (AMPC), Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.Lockman.org.