PASTOR'S PEN: Stay connected

Picture this: an apple orchard full of strong trees loaded with fruit. The apples are just ripe for the picking. It’s a wonderful sight. But what if someone went through and cut off every branch? They are loaded with glorious fruit! But once cut off from the tree, what begins to happen to that fruit and eventually to the branch? Yes, the fruit begins to rot and the branch begins to die.

Christ used this picture in John 15. He said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”

A person does not produce fruit that glorifies God if he or she is not connected to Christ. Anything that comes from you or I without that connection is simply rot and offers nothing of glory to God. But if I am connected to Christ, then the good He produces will come out of me and I will glorify the Father.

Galatians 5:22-23 gives us nine fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Just like apples are naturally produced on a branch that is part of an apple tree, the fruits of the Spirit are naturally produced in one who is connected to Christ. One connected to Christ will show love rather than hate. One connected to Christ will have joy rather than bitterness. One connected to Christ will be at peace rather than worrisome. One connected to Christ will be kind to others rather than selfish.

Such things as these, however, don’t always come out those claiming to be Christ-followers. You may claim to know Christ, yet you are easily angered. Are you connected to Christ? You may say you are a child of the King of kings, yet you give into that same sin over and over again. Are you attached to the true vine — the solid tree — Jesus Christ.

When I struggle with sin, have hatred, impatience, or I’m selfish; I have to ask myself the question, “Am I connecting with Christ?” Am I truly spending time with Him each day in His Word and throughout the day in prayer? Most often, when I’m not producing God-honoring fruit, that answer is “No.” So I ask you, “Are you having a hard time producing any of those nine fruits of the Spirit?” If so, connect to the true vine and those characteristics will begin to be produced and ripen in your life.