“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”
To this point in our text, Jesus has only implied what it takes to bear fruit. Now in verse 4, he makes the process explicit: in order to bear fruit, we must abide in the vine; we must be rightly connected to Christ himself. But whereas a branch has only a passive role in its relation to a vine, we must take an active role in our relation to Christ. Whereas a branch cannot help but suck its nutrients from the vine, we must be careful and diligent to seek our nourishment from Christ alone. Consider Philippians 2:12-13:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” I love this verse! On the one hand, it teaches us that we must strive with all of our might to be found in Christ and not to be found a hypocrite.
But on the other hand, no text more clearly states that the reason we have the passion, energy, ability, and commitment to abide in Christ is because God the Father is working in us to will and to act according to his good pleasure. He is working in us so that we’ll want to abide in Christ. He is working in us so that we’ll know how to abide in Christ. He is working in us so that we’ll take necessary and appropriate action to abide in Christ. He is working in us so that we’ll bear much fruit through Christ. He is working in us so that we’ll glorify his matchless name through Christ.
So, the key thought for today is this: strive with all of your might to abide in Christ, knowing that it is the Father working in you to will and to act according to his good pleasure. Seek your nourishment from Christ alone and die to everything else in your life, knowing that it is the grace and power and will of the Father that is causing and empowering you to do so. Strive after Christ, knowing that you strive with the strength of God!
Prayer Focus: Pray that God will cause us to strive after Christ with all of our might, and that he will cause us to rejoice in his grace and strength which is at work within us.