The righteous are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. Psalm 1:3
Jesus said, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” John 15:8
I shared the unbelievable and incomprehensible conversation I had many years ago with a man who was leaving his wife and daughters. He told me, “I know it’s wrong. But I’m leaving her.” I was so stunned I didn’t know what to say.
As I shared that with the guys at the Theology on Tap Bible study they were similarly stunned. Then one spoke up: “Don’t we all do that?” While on some level he’s right, I pray we never fully reflect such an attitude or action. We’re very much like that man – all too bold in our sin, doing things we know we ought not. We are in sadly all-too-common company in that regard: no less a one than St. Paul experienced that.
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. – Romans 7:15-19
So are we like that bold and audacious man across the desk from me those years ago? Yes and no. To recognize that we are – whenever we sin – keeps us humble before God and one another. When we repent of our sin, we are much different. This is one way in which the unrepentant sinner and we are very much not alike. We repentant sinners who follow Jesus – albeit imperfectly – do glorify God.
Jesus says the key to bearing fruit is not perfection, but connection to him. When we abandon God’s ways, and openly and willfully sin, we lose that connection. We do not glorify God. But when we stay connected to Jesus we will bear fruit. We will have a beautiful witness to God’s grace in our lives. And what we do will have lasting impact.
The man who left his wife and daughters had a lasting impact on them as well. But that’s the kind that does not glorify God nor give evidence to the world that we are Jesus’ followers. As we stay connected to Jesus we will bear fruit of lasting impact for the good of others and the glory of God.