How do we measure the depth of our love for Christ or the success of our investment in the lives of others? Consider for a moment: When listening to a sermon, a testimony, or a Christian podcast, what stands out as the measure of success? Often, we acknowledge numbers of salvation decisions, baptisms, attendance, or membership–all of which are reliable, tangible data. Numbers do hold significance, but should we allow them to define our love or the success of our actions?
In the hours leading up to Jesus’ arrest, He shared final pieces of wisdom and instruction with the disciples at the Passover feast. In John 15, Jesus uses the analogy of the vine and the branches. He describes exactly how we should love and measure success. To love, we must abide in Him, and success is measured by the fruit we bear; bearing fruit is only possible if we, as the branches, remain attached to the vine, Jesus.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;‚ÄØapart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5NIV
It’s through abiding in Him that He prunes our hearts and minds making us more like Jesus, who is love. As Jesus commanded His disciples, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34). In Galatians 5, Paul names the fruits of the Spirit:
“But the fruit‚ÄØof the Spirit is love, ‚ÄØjoy, peace,‚ÄØforbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5: 2223NIV
Love is the first fruit of the Spirit. The more we abide in Jesus, demonstrating our love and obedience, the more others will see the Father through the fruit we bear. So, how do we measure the depth of our love for Christ or the success of our actions? Hopefully, we measure it as God does: obedience to abide, producing fruit that draws others to the Father.