Jesus used the branch and vine analogy to explain how our relationship with him should work. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 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. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. John 15:1-8 ESV
Before delving into the mechanism of how we bear fruit and what it means to abide it would be good to acknowledge what the fruit looks like.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:19-24 ESV
The works of the flesh are what we do naturally out of the sin nature. We are selfish seeking our own gain and our own pleasure. Look at the list of selfish desires: sexual immorality, sensuality, idolatry, jealousy just to name a few. These are the things our work can produce and it is not fruit, our production is death and decay. The Holy Spirit on the other hand produces in us love, peace, and self-control. This is not a result of our work, but a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in us.
It is a difficult concept for men and women to grasp. We do not produce anything that God wants. We “bear” fruit. We do not produce it and the fruit is not something we create with our works. When we are grafted into the vine Jesus pumps life into the branches. The branches then grow strong and strong enough to bear fruit. Fruit that is a benefit to everyone around.
The fruit of the spirit is grounded in love. Love for Jesus and the Father’s plan. As believers grow in their relationship with Jesus the motivation for everything is not fear, or religious duty, or because that is what is supposed to be done, the believer is moved by love.
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21 ESV
Abiding in the vine is the duty of the branch. Love is the key to abiding. Jesus made clear that a branch that will bear fruit is a branch that loves the vine. For Jesus to “manifest” fruit through a branch that branch must abide. Do we love Jesus? Have we sought after Him? Have we been ready to give up our own selfish works to in order to be ready to bear His fruit? Each man must reflect on the motivation for why we do what we do.
Jesus also said that any branch that does not bear fruit is worthless to the vine. The Father will remove and toss into the fire to be burned. We think our works bring life, but when we look at the selfishness of those works we really only see decay and death. God has no use for that so it will be removed.
My challenge to the reader is that you would consider what God desires as worthwhile and ask Him for the desire to abide in Christ our only source of life.