“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
In yesterday’s devotion, we considered how leaders in the church and marketplace are facing incredible challenges in leading others. Jesus’ final “I am” statement emphasizes that we can do nothing of lasting significance outside of him, calling himself “the true vine.”
In the Jerusalem Temple, there hung a gigantic grapevine representing Israel. It was made of pure gold that wealthy citizens had contributed. The Hebrew Scriptures described Yahweh as having planted the vine, a metaphor for Israel. God tended it so that it would produce fruit, blessing all the nations through its fruitfulness. Jesus is saying that he is the true Israel and only those who abide in him are branches that will produce fruit pleasing to Yahweh.
Gary Haugen of the International Justice Mission was asking leaders at the annual Leadership Summit in 2008 to consider the people his organization seeks to rescue: entire families enslaved, abandoned children suffering abuses of all kinds, boy and girls forced into prostitution, and the pervasiveness of innocent people being jailed without charge. Haugen challenged thousands of listeners with this question: “How are these people supposed to believe that God is good?” Followers of Jesus are to abide in Jesus and then produce fruit that demonstrated that God is good.
Even though you many not find your primary call to serve the most vulnerable, as IJM does, God has still placed you in some context of leadership to produce fruit that reveals God’s goodness. Perhaps you will help workers in your organization feel valued, have opportunities to flourish and connect more deeply with the meaningfulness of their work. Or maybe the fruit of your leadership this week will be primarily to family members who need to know they are valued simply because they are created and loved by God, and not because of their success, accomplishment, or behavior. Leaders in the marketplace and Christian ministries will regularly have opportunities to plant seeds of hope for the many they encounter that find it hard to see that God is good because of their current circumstances. Wherever you find yourself leading, our consistent mission is to stay connected and allow God to bear fruit through us that will glorify him and nourish others. The good news is that it’s not up to you or me to decide when and where this happens. We just need to remain in Jesus and invite him to bear fruit through our faithful lives wherever he calls us to lead and have influence.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
How have you seen God use your life to produce fruit that reveals God’s goodness? How have you been a recipient of God’s fruit through a leader that’s impacted you? Have you ever told this leader how you’ve been impacted because of his or her faithfulness?
Is there a spiritual habit this past week that has helped you stay connected to Jesus? Does your organization provide opportunities directly or indirectly to stay connected to Jesus?
Where has God called you to lead and what kind of fruit do you discern is needed for those you are called to serve? Is God providing opportunities to plant seeds, nurture growth, harvest fruit or prune in this season?
I worship you, God, the Gardener and your Son, Jesus, who is the Vine. Thank you for the privilege of bearing fruit in your name, so that the world might see your goodness. Use me to reveal the love, hope, and justice that comes from you alone. I want to leave a lasting legacy and make my life count. So help me plant the seeds this week wherever you lead me. Help me discern what season you have placed me in and how I can be faithful to lead in the opportunities you have given me. Amen.