Wanted: Fruitful Laborers

The Bible is full of imagery, both in the Old and New Testaments. One of the most vivid and impactful is the whole concept of trees and bearing fruit. I love in particular the words of Jesus from John 15:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." (John 15:1-4)

Several questions come to mind - what does it mean to bear fruit? How do I know I’m bearing fruit, and why does it matter? Galatians 5:19-21 points out the fruit of our flesh, and then immediately afterward in verses 22-25 Paul identifies the fruits of the Spirit. Clearly you and I want the fruit of the Spirit! So how do we know if we’re abiding in Christ? Is it just reading our Bible, praying, going to church and doing good things? Or is there more to it?

I think one of the best evidences of bearing fruit comes when we share the good news of Jesus Christ with the lost. So does Leroy Eims of the Navigators, an evangelism and discipleship ministry. In his devotional “Wanted: Fruitful Laborers,” Eims talks about the characteristics of a Christian who is effective in ministry and a bearer of good fruit; he quotes Romans 15:14, where Paul writes, “I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.” One of the critical issues is being filled with knowledge. Why? Eims says this:

As laborers, we must saturate our hearts and minds with the Word of God. We must study it, memorize it, and live it. And finally, a laborer must be able to teach another person–to lead that person to Christ and then come alongside and encourage that new believer in the joys and struggles of daily life.

Study and know God’s Word. Take that Word to people who don’t know Jesus, and then help them attain that same knowledge so they can in turn go and do the same - multiply disciples. Jesus said the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Are we in the fields, laboring for Christ, or are we on the sidelines, distracted by all the many things this world offers? There is much at stake; Leroy Eims ends his devotional with this powerful statement:

The crying need today is for people–laborers–who are able and willing to take advantage of the spiritual opportunities all around us.

It’s so easy to lose sight of this; I’ll be the first to admit I’ve done it many, many times. So as we start a new week together, let’s encourage each other to bear fruit and labor in the field’s of God’s harvest together.