July 2, 2019 • Life for Leaders
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
I want to be fruitful. I want to make a difference in people’s lives, in the church, and in the world. I expect this is true for you, also. Though we can exhaust ourselves in our daily routines without thinking about why we do what we do, when we step back and catch our breath we feel a deep desire for fruitfulness. We want our lives to count.
This should come as no surprise given the fact that we were made for fruitfulness. Remember God’s first command to human beings in Genesis 1: “Be fruitful” (Genesis 1:28). Jesus reinforced this purpose through his teaching. In John 15:8, for example, he said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
How can we live fruitful lives, fulfilling our created purpose—not to mention the yearning of our hearts? In John 15, Jesus answers this question by emphasizing our connection to him. We bear fruit by “remaining” in him as branches “remain” in the vine (John 15:4-8). In Ephesians 5, we find a similar point made with different imagery. Here, we “are light in the Lord” and are to “live as children of light” (5:8). When we do, we will be fruitful. Why? Because “the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth” (5:9).
The phrase “fruit of the light” appears to be a mixed metaphor. Since when does light actually have fruit? I don’t suppose that the Apostle Paul was an expert in growing plants. But, whether he knew it or not, the truth is that light is essential for a plant to bear fruit. For example, if you plant a citrus tree you should be sure that it gets full sun if you want it to be bountifully fruitful. Similarly, if we want to live fruitfully, then we must let the light of Christ shine upon us, in us, and through us into the world.
Something to Think About:
Would you say that you are living fruitfully? Why or why not?
What parts of your life are the most fruitful?
What parts are the least fruitful?
Something to Do:
Take some time to consider how the light of Christ within you is helping you live a fruitful and productive life. Give thanks for all that you discover as you reflect.
Gracious God, thank you for choosing to shine upon me, in me, and through me. Thank you for the way your light enables me, not only to reflect your light in the world, but also to make a genuine difference in the world.
Help me, I pray, to be so enlightened by you that my life is truly fruitful, bearing the choice fruit of goodness, righteousness, and truth. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online
I am the Vine and You are the Branches (John 15)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.