I’ve spoken a few times over the past year or so from John 15 where Jesus talks about himself as the Vine and his disciples as the branches. Today I have been looking at James Lawrence’s book Growing Leaders and have been struck by some of what he has to say about this theme.
He writes that without Christ we cannot bear his fruit – ‘the fruit of the Spirit cannot grow in our own lives if we don’t remain in him.’ He asks what counterfeit fruit looks like – fruit we may manage to produce that looks good on the shelf, but is not lasting healthy fruit – suggesting that it may be easier to describe from the inside what it feels like.
He puts his finger on the following:
- You speak kind words but lack genuine compassion for people.
- You teach with inspiring words but they have an increasingly hollow ring to your own ears.
- You patiently smile but inwardly doubt they will ever change.
- You laugh with abandon but wonder about opting out.
- You do good deeds but wish that someone else would do them for you.
- You gently encourage, but fear the day when the inner rage will escape.
- You exercise discipline but wonder why you bother.
The counterfeit stuff might win us applause, accolades, approval and appreciation, but at what cost? A diminishing relationship with Christ.