What we are really asking here in terms of fruit is why all Christians don’t show evidence in their life of the nature of Christ in them. The answer to that question is really quite elementary. It is because there is not enough good Christian input in their life; there is not enough thinking and dwelling on the Word of God, and on things that are true and good and pure, etc. (Phil. 4:8).
But some would say: “If there is just a little thinking on the Word and on what is good, wouldn’t there be a little fruit?
The answer is no, not really. And here is why. If there is only a little meditation on the Word, that meditation will be used just to help the Christian survive as a Christian. When there is a little more meditation, that spiritual intake is used to help the Christian grow a little. Fruit (that is, the evidence of the nature of Christ in a person) comes only when there is an abundance of mediation on the Word.
We can compare a Christian who wants to bear fruit to a fruit tree. If you have ever noticed the rings on a tree after it has been cut down you will notice that some of the rings are large (lines that are far apart), and others are very small (lines that are close together). Each ring, as you might know, represents one year. If the tree has a large ring, that tells you that the tree grew that much in a year. And more likely, if it was a fruit tree, it bore fruit that year. But if you see very small rings, that tells you that on those years the tree grew very little and probably didn’t bear any fruit.
And the reason why fruit trees don’t bear fruit in some years is because, as Jim Downing has explained in his book Meditation, God has established priorities for trees in how they take in nourishment. As he explained, fruit trees have three priorities for nourishment. The first priority is to stay alive, or to sustain the life that is already in the tree. Therefore, the first amount of nourishment that comes into the tree is used for its own survival. The second priority is for its growth. Hence, if more nourishment comes into the tree that is needed for it to survive, that extra nourishment is used to help the tree grow in all directions. The third priority is for fruit. Therefore, when the tree has enough nourishment for the growth of its roots and trunk and branches, then the rest of the nourishment that comes into the tree is used for growing fruit.
So this is the order of priorities as God has designed it. The fruit is the last priority. And it makes sense. There must be survival and growth before there is fruit, because the fruit is the last to grow on the branches. As Downing has said, “… [the fruit] is the overflow, the surplus, the excess life of the nourishment taken into the tree over and beyond that needed for life and growth. Fruit is simply excess life.”
So what we are saying here is that God has given Christian people the same three priorities of nourishment. Downing sums it up: “When we have partaken of the life of Christ in such abundance that our life-sustaining needs are met and our growth needs are met, the overflow of the love of Christ, the life of Christ, turns into fruit.”
I would like to state also that the reason why many Christians don’t bear good fruit is because their vines are already full of bad fruit. As Paul in Galatians (esp. chap. 5 & 6) indicates, the one who sows to the flesh will reap a harvest that is of the flesh—which is bad or corrupt fruit (Gal. 6:8). But he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap good fruit—fruit which is not corrupt and does not decay, but lives in us forever; for it has the life of Christ in it, and it gives us the very highest quality of life that is possible to experience (Read Jn. 17:3 and Eph. 1:17-18).
How Does One Bear Fruit?
We have already mostly answered that question. It is by our constant meditation on the Word and by our abiding in Christ. Overall though, it is by our steadfast obedience to God. For Jesus told us in John 15:5, “He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit…” But then Jesus goes on in John 15:10 to tell us how to abide in order to bear fruit. He said, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” Obedience is the key. It will keep us abiding in Jesus’ love, which will result in much good fruit.