The first commandment
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground”.
Notice that before the human being ever came into this world, God blessed them. The life of everyman on earth was divinely intended to be an expression of the blessings of God.
Then, notice from the first chapter of the bible that everything was created to be fruitful; to multiply; to become more. Unfruitfulness is simply unnatural.
The first instruction programmed by the divine word into the human spirit and consciousness is ‘be fruitful’. I regard this as the first commandment. ‘Be fruitful’; not ‘be faithful’, or ‘be religious’.
It is possible to be faithful without being fruitful
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. ~John 15:1-2
How can a branch be in Him and bear no fruit? At least, Jesus implies here that it is a possibility. It is possible to be in Him without bearing fruit. It is possible to be faithful without being fruitful.
So, I ask you this morning, is your apparent faithfulness to God producing fruits for God? Is your faithfulness producing fruitfulness?
It’s a branch. It’s in Him. So it’s stuck in there, but mysteriously there’s no fruit. So it’s cut off.
It’s not enough to be faithful; you must be fruitful. Faithfulness without fruitfulness is an abomination before God.
Be fruitful; that’s the essence of praise, and proof of discipleship
And by the way what does it mean to be fruitful? It means to reproduce the nature of God here on earth. It means to produce results that make folks pause and say ‘Hey! There’s God!’.
When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!”
It means that your life on earth makes men to stop and wonder. If your results on earth cause people to pause and wonder, then, whether or not they say ‘praise God’, their feelings of ‘wow’ is a praise to God.
And that’s the kind of praise God prefers.
“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
First, fruitfulness glorifies God. It is the essence of praise. Then, Jesus also indicates that it is the proof of discipleship. I think that’s quite deep.
Our lives ought to be the praise. It’s ok to sing praises with your mouth, but if your life is not a praise, your lip-praising is a waste of time.
Let’s get a little bit more practical
In very practical terms, for instance, it means that if you should create wealth and success for yourself and others. Again, Paul models this.
I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
~Acts 20:33 – 35
This is what it means to be fruitful: to create wealth for yourself and others.
If you are a branch in him — faithfully attending church, praying and fasting weekly, reading your bible everyday, involved in religious activities — but you are poor and wretched, that’s not reproducing God’s nature on earth. In fact, you’ll likely end up repelling people from the idea of God.
Spirituality should be empowering; and religion without inspiring results is an abomination before God.
As a matter of fact, as we’ll see later, fruitfulness is one proof of genuine faithfulness. If you claim to be faithful to God, but lack attractive results in your life, your so-called faithfulness is highly questionable.
You see this all the time: she is highly devoted to church activities, spends morning to night engaged in religious rituals, critical of everyone else; but miserable, wretched, and unproductive in the real world.
I don’t believe that God will ever be pleased with anyone that makes it look as though serving Him were a curse. He’ll definitely spew that entity out of His mouth.
Personal responsibility is key to fruitfulness
In order to produce amazing results that glorify God, you must take charge and respond wisely and creatively to the challenges and opportunities of life. This is personal responsibility.
Make no room for mediocrity and unproductivity in your life.
For instance, if you don’t have a solid channel of cash-flow, get tough and create one. If you can’t create one, get busy and find one. And be sure that you do not confuse unemployment with self-employment. They are not the same.
Think and become fruitful
Napoleon Hill wrote a book, ‘Think And Grow Rich.’ The title of that book implies that thinking is something anyone will easily do. I don’t think so. Only few people will really think. Real, responsible, creative, innovative, productive thinking is rare; very rare.
Thinking is hard. This is why only very few undertake it.
Of course, many people actually believe that they are thinking when they’re not. They equate wishing, daydreaming, worrying, and blind optimism (aka, hope) with thinking.
Real thinking must be grounded on clear understanding of the facts of your life and circumstances. It must be be based on accurate analysis of the world as it is, not as you wish it could have been. To think productively, you must be realistic and factual. Only people who are aware of a broad range of real tangible facts regarding their persons and circumstances can think accurately.
If you want to be fruitful, begin to think for yourself; just make sure you are really thinking, and that you are thinking accurately.
If you fail to think in practical and productive terms, you will not be able to create the level of amazing results that will glorify God on earth. Then you will be a highly dependent being; a liability on earth.
For instance, a reason a lot of women want to get married is to escape the challenge of having to do any form of responsible thinking. They look for some unfortunate male to take the blame for their laziness and irresponsible choices.
You also see this in work places; lazy unthinking staff just waiting at the end of every month for their meagre stipends.
Then, what about the religious crowd that throng to miracle rallies? While I believe in miracles, I think a lot (not all) of those that pour into miracle arenas are plain silly: they are expecting the miracle worker to solve all their problems with one sentence and a wave of hand. So they fall prey to crafty religious merchants who enrich themselves with whatever little the suckers have.
Let His words abide in you
“”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.”
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”
You see it? It’s possible to abide in Him without His words abiding in you. When you abide in Him without His words abiding in you – that is, when religiosity is devoid of real spirituality – it leads to unfruitful faithfulness. This is what happens with unproductive bench-warming, addicted-churchgoing, activity-obsessed religion — the kind that repels both God and man.
And what in the world does it mean to have His words abide in you?
Now, before you get off the deep end on that one, let me quickly point out that it definitely means more than memorizing a bunch of bible verses! It means that you become well-versed and grounded in His wisdom, the sound, solid eternal laws that guide the operations of the universe; and that your every move is guided by them.
To be spiritual is to be pragmatic…
“Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.”
Now think: What can I do today – as in, what practical actions can I undertake right away – to improve the quality and output of my talents, relationships, businesses, and opportunities?