A Real Legacy
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide… (John 15:16).”
In John 15:16, God’s election is a primary reminder that, just as we didn’t choose Christ by our own wisdom and ability, we don’t bear fruit on our own. The fruit we bear in this life is inspired and generated by God alone. Of course, we do and are called to work hard, to struggle to obey, and to honor God in our lives. But, as v.15 reminds us, if we think our obedience is what leads to fruitfulness, we’re sorely mistaken.
This, by the way, is good news. If we’re the source of our own fruitfulness, we have ample reason to be tired, weary, and discouraged. As we age and as we see the people in our lives come and go, we realize that even the greatest people and their works (in this world) will come to an end. When I think about some of the most memorable events in world history—the foundation of the Church in the book of Acts, the Protestant Reformation, the Westminster Assembly, the Great Awakening in the American colonies—I’m reminded that they all have one thing in common: there is little visible, worldly reminder of them. But what has remained of them is the fruit that God had appointed before time, the fruit that still remains.
As you raise children, prepare for a career, or wind down a career, remember that the test of a great work is ultimately not what you do, but what God does in and through what you do.
In all your activity, keep in mind that God appointed you to bear fruit; and what God has appointed, God will accomplish. He did not create you and bring you to Himself only for you to live and die and be remembered no more. The influence of a faithful life lived for the glory of God will be seen everywhere, and the reason we know this is true is summarized well in v.15: “Christ appointed us to bear fruit, and fruit that will abide.”
Remember what Solomon said—a man with more reason than any other to think what he built would remain, and a man who built and left behind an impressive empire. After repeatedly stating that all his works were vanity and striving after wind, he gave us enduring hope: “Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked? (Eccl 7:13).”
This has more comfort in it than pain. Sure, we all have details and circumstances we can and should change about our lives, but there some things we can never change. Why? Because God has declared it so and because God is using the unchangeable details our lives to produce fruit that will remain.
Consider a final thought. If you could straighten what God has made crooked, it would not endure. It would, like Solomon’s wealth and accomplishments, be buried under the sands of the Arabian Peninsula. Sometimes we have to struggle for months, even years, with circumstances or personal infirmities that God is using to manifest His glory in and through our lives. In the absence of these weaknesses and trials, we could never bear fruit that would remain, but only leave behind fading relics of our own personal glory and accomplishments.
Today, go forth in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is bearing fruit in and through your life that, because God has appointed it, will remain forever.