FRUIT AND GLORY
I was in my 20s, sitting in my very first Bible study, when I first heard the question, "What is the chief end of man?" Much to my amazement (I thought it was a rhetorical question), everyone answered in unison, "to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever." My immediate wonder at how they all knew the answer turned quickly into another kind of wonder as I pondered the ramifications of such a statement — the ultimate purpose, the ultimate reason for existence, the ultimate goal of my life, is to bring God glory.
Of course, "glorifying God" is a somewhat nebulous concept, especially to someone sitting in her first Bible study. So this beautiful revelation quickly became the impetus to dig and try to find out how in the world I was supposed to fulfill this glorious purpose. In John 15, Jesus talks with his disciples about vines and branches and fruit and how they all work together. Tucked in the middle of this conversation he makes the amazing statement, "By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples." So that was my answer! Fruit bearing glorifies God.
My first reaction was to get really busy doing a lot of things — "bearing fruit" for his glory. As you can guess, not only was I exhausted, the soil of my heart was not being cultivated to bear the kind of fruit that glorifies our Father. My heart was becoming prideful, self-righteous, and impatient. Why? Because the fruit of busyness is not the fruit that glorifies God. The fruit that he wants to cultivate in our hearts — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — is fruit that is born only as a result of being vitally connected to the life-giving vine. Jesus calls this vital connection abiding; he in us, us in him, and his word in us.
Abiding, like glorifying, can be somewhat nebulous and, possibly, even sound passive. It’s not! We are active participants. We abide as we read, apply, and obey God’s word . . . not to become connected but because we are connected. We continually present our hearts for cultivation, for nourishment, and for pruning. And, as we actively give the word of God full access to our hearts and do the hard work of obeying, fruit will come, your Father will be glorified, and you will find that your joy in him forever begins now.
This was first written for the PCA Women's Ministry Newsletter, Interface. For the entire publication, click here.