Many years ago when I was in Israel, we came across an orange tree growing in the wild along a trail. It was quite impressive, with the orange fruit on the tree contrasted against the green leaves. The land surrounding the orange tree was filled with low lying scrubs and grass. In fact it seemed odd that the tree had grown there at all. But that tree was quite beautiful. We were with a group of students and had been hiking for some time, and when the students saw the fruit, they asked the guide if they could pick it and eat it. He said they could, but he would not advise it, because the tree had bad fruit. While we did not really understand what he meant, his words did deter most from trying the fruit. However, there were others who just had to taste it for themselves. A few students picked off the fruit and peeled back the outer layer to expose the meat of the orange on the inside. From all we could see it looked like perfectly good fruit. But one by one as the students tasted the fruit each one spit it out. It was awful. The fruit had the appearance of beauty on the outside, but inside it tasted bitter.
The guide told us that fruit trees need work to make good fruit. They need to be watered at the right time and they need to be fertilized throughout the year and they even need to be pruned at the right time. Without these things the fruit would not grow properly. Because the tree was wild, no one was there to take care of it. It made me think about what Jesus said in the Gospel of John.
In John 15:1-5, Jesus refers to Himself as the vine, and He tells us that we are the branches. He said in verse 5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” We need to remember that for us to bear good fruit, we must abide in Jesus. When we try to do things on our own; in our own power, we run the risk of producing bitter fruit. We need the Master of the Garden to water us and give us nutrients and even prune us when necessary so that we will bear good fruit.
In our society the predominant feeling is that we must do things on our own. It is easy to get caught up in the belief that we do not need anyone; that we should not need anyone, and that we do not even need God. But today, more than ever, when good spiritual fruit is in short supply, we need Him all the more. Take the time today to abide in Jesus. Take the time today to read His word and to pray to Him. It should be our desire to bear good fruit. Remember, without Him we can do nothing.