“I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He takes away every branch in me which has no fruit, and every branch which has fruit he makes clean, so that it may have more fruit. You are clean, even now, through the teaching which I have given you."
"Be in me at all times as I am in you. As the branch is not able to give [bear] fruit of itself, if it is not still on the vine, so you are not able to do so if you are not in me. I am the vine, you are the branches: he who is in me at all times as I am in him, gives [bears] much fruit, because without me you are able to do nothing.”
“If a man does not keep himself in me, he becomes dead and is cut off like a dry branch; such branches are taken up and put in the fire and burned. If you are in me at all times, and my words are in you, then anything for which you make a request will be done for you. Here is my Father's glory, in that you give much fruit and so are my true disciples.” John 15:1-8 (BBE).
Some people think the fruit that Jesus speaks about here has to do with the gifts of the Spirit—how many people they have won for Christ, how much they have prophesied in His name, and all kinds of other good works done through the spiritual gifts. But Jesus says that there are many who called Him “Lord, Lord” who had done many such good works, who had the gifts of the Spirit, but He still never really knew them. (Matthew 7:21-23.) When Jesus says that we should bear fruit by being in Him at all times, He is speaking about the fruits of the Spirit that ”grow” in the lives of those who walk in the Spirit.
What it means to be in Him at all times
We can only bear fruit, the fruit of the Spirit, if we are always in Jesus and walk in the Spirit. To always be in Jesus is a very active way of living! It means to live in such a way that I am always walking hand in hand with Him, that I live according to His Word.
“If you are in me at all times, and my words are in you…” To be in Jesus at all times means that His words are (live, have power) always in my heart and mind. When the words of Jesus live and have power in my heart and mind so that I obey them by the power of the Spirit, then the fruits of the Spirit will also grow and become visible in my life.
What it means to bear fruit
It is clear that every Christian should bear fruit—the fruit of the Spirit: “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He takes away every branch in me which has no fruit, and every branch which has fruit he makes clean, so that it may have more fruit.” John 15:1-2 (BBE).
Having the fruit of the Spirit is not something you can choose to have or not to have in your Christian life. I get the fruit of the Spirit in my life if I am obedient to the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. If I am not interested and don’t want to do God’s will, that means I am not truly a Christian—a follower of Christ—and this means I cannot have fellowship with Jesus Christ and the Father. (John 14:15-17; John 14:21,23-24; 1 John 1:6-7.)
Jesus Himself says here that each branch that does not have fruit is taken away by the Father. Such a thought should make me serious, but should not make me discouraged and let me lose hope. It should encourage me to have more fruit in my life and have fellowship with Him!
So how can I have fruit in my life? The fruit of the Spirit can only grow in me by the power of the Spirit. I cannot grow it myself. I have to totally surrender my self-will to God so that I can obey His words in the daily situations of life - then the fruits of the Spirit will show from my life instead of the “fruits” of my own sinful nature. A total surrender is when Jesus is my first love and rules in my heart and mind. Then I do His will—His Word—in my life and not my own will. Then the fruits of the Spirit will grow and show naturally in my life.
What it means to be cleaned and cut back
The branches that grow fruit are cleaned and cut back so that they can bear even more fruit. If branches had feelings and one were to ask the branch how it feels during the cleaning process, the branch would for sure say, “Very painful!”
It can sometimes feel the same for us who are living fully for God, and walking in the Spirit as well as we can. We have fruits of the Spirit in our life but there can be areas where the fruit is very small and imperfect, or where there is not much fruit. The gardener cleans and cuts back part of the branch in the hope that the branch will grow more fruit—and fruit that becomes more perfect over time with more cleaning. This is also known as God’s treatment with us. (Hebrews 12:5-11.)
The Father is the gardener and He cleans and cuts back. He sometimes allows difficult circumstances and situations to come over us where we have little money, poor health, where there are misunderstandings, maybe a difficult relationship, etc. In such trials we see that we don’t have the fruit of the Spirit in different areas, that we can’t live a godly life on our own, and it shows us that we need a deeper surrender to Jesus and a deeper obedience to His Word.
It is written: “… the Holy Spirit that God has given to those who obey Him.” Acts 5:32.
If we are more and more obedient to God’s Word—we walk more and more in the Spirit—then we get more and more of the power of the Spirit, and then the fruits of the Spirit can be seen in our lives to a greater and greater degree.
Bearing much fruit
When we bear more fruit and better fruit, it is not only the gardener that is happy but also the branches. The branch shares in the joy of the gardener, because the branch wants to bear more and better fruit so that the gardener can get more glory. That is why the branch can bear the pain of cleaning and cutting, just as Jesus could bear the pain of the cross: “… who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross …” Hebrews 12:2.
Having much fruit, the fruit of the Spirit, is what every believer is called to, and it is God’s promise to them! And by God’s grace it is possible for you too! This brings glory to the Father. “You should produce much fruit and show that you are my followers, which brings glory to my Father.” John 15:8 (NCV).