Fall (the season, not the activity) is something I eagerly wait for all year. I love everything about it. It is the warm days and cool nights, the uniquely fall breeze coupled with sweaters, slippers, campfires, and the decrease in mosquitos that make it one of the best times of the year to be outside. It is that magical time of year when cider mills come alive and fill up with people ignoring diets and looking to “fill up” on cider and fresh warm donuts. It is also at this time that everywhere you look, nature seems to be vying for our attention in what appears to be a two-month beauty competition. The trees in every sense, stand above it all in a staggering display. Their canopies high in the air, proudly show off their coats of many colors. However, the thing I love most is the fruit of that season. Stone fruit of any variety is a particular favorite of mine. Peaches, plums, nectarines, and apricots are at the top of my list, but of course, the God-given gift of apples cannot be ignored. Even now, I can taste the pie, warm with its fall spices.
Think about that perfect peach in your hand, do you realize how much has gone into it? The work began many months ago, and what we enjoy is the culmination of an extensive process. The farmer carefully worked the ground, breaking up the soil, removing weeds, and prepping it to receive seed. He then planted, watered, tended, pruned, and continued to protect those trees from anything that would take their vital nutrients, all in an effort to produce the peach that you and I will enjoy.
That said, it is interesting to think about the peach’s responsibility in this process. As the tree grows, it shoots forth limbs and begins to bud. In time, these turn into flowers and eventually become a piece of fruit. It is truly a miracle of God’s design! It is not overly dramatic to say that from this point on, the most important factor, is that the fruit remains connected to the tree. For we all know, that if a growing piece of fruit is severed from its tree, all growth stops. Did you catch that? Fruit cannot grow on its own, it must be connected to the tree. The tree provides what is needed for growth. To say it simply, no connection = no fruit.
Jesus said this in John chapter 15 when He said in verse 4 (NKJV), “Abide in me.” These words simply mean “stay connected to Me.” He goes on, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” Jesus is using a picture that we understand. A branch cannot produce fruit on its own. It must be connected to the tree to produce fruit. He then tells us plainly that this is not about fruit trees at all, but about us and our growth as Christians. Verse 5 (NKJV) makes it clear, He says “I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.” Jesus is the “tree,” steady, strong, and the source and supply of all that we need. We are the “branches.” Connected to Him, the promise is that we will “bear much fruit.” However, the warning is just as sure. If we are separated from Him, we will accomplish nothing. You might think, “how does this happen?” It happens when we think we are able to bear fruit on our own. It happens when we think we are more capable than we are. In short, it happens through pride. When we think we are able, capable, and strong, we will not see our need to be connected to Him to grow. In our arrogance and independence, we are convinced that we already have what we need in ourselves. However, this is not true. Jesus says so. Hear the words, “without me you can do nothing.” In the Greek language, it is literally, “not one thing.”
However, when we are convinced that we do not have what we need “inside” ourselves, then we will look to Him to supply our need and that is the thing He promises to do. Philippians 4:19 (NKJV) says, “And my God shall supply all of your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
The whole thing can all be simply summed up by saying: we grow in every way because of Him, through Him, and by Him.