Bearing Fruit That Will Last
6th Sunday of Easter
May 9, 2021
“It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you
to go and bear fruit that will remain.”
How fruitful is my life? What does a fruitful life consist of? Most of us try to make progress in our lives: financial progress; career progress; health progress; relationship progress; vacation progress. But what about spiritual progress? What will be the lasting result of this action in the lives of others – and for me? Will there be lasting gains? Will this fruit remain?
I’ll never forget an interview in the newspaper with a corporate raider in the 1980s. He had purchased a large company in Los Angeles, Gemco, sold off the parts, made a lot of money, and had ultimately thrown about 12,000 people out of work. The reporter asked him a poignant question: “How did you feel about the fact that your actions, while profitable for your company, left so many unemployed?” His answer was unbelievably selfish: “Well, it’s true that this was bad for them, but it was good for me.” Decisions made with such a worldview, whether large or small, do not bear good fruit in the end. If we really listen to Christ, we can be spared from making the same mistake.
Imagine someone trying to drive from Salem to Seattle, but who instead gets on I-5 going south. By the time he realizes this he has gone a long way, perhaps this person might say, “Well, it’s true I drove many miles in the wrong direction, but I made great time!” If we are not careful, we may find ourselves making good progress in our lives, but in the wrong direction.
To save us from making such mistaken choices, the Lord offers some practical advice on how to bear lasting fruit. First, realize that we are chosen and appointed by God for a specific mission in life. We will find this appointment from God right in the midst of our family, work, school, friends and the people and circumstances and trials of daily life. You have a mission, chosen by God that only you can accomplish. Our time on earth will last only until this is accomplished or it is clear we will not complete the task.
“This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) The gospel tells us what kind of love this is: a sacrificial love that lays down one’s life for others. It is very easy to get off track with the goals we set for ourselves. It is very easy to actually be seeking ourselves and only self-fulfillment instead of seeking to fulfill the will of God.
There is a simple test for this. In our goal setting, or in the decisions that we make each day, we can always ask ourselves: what will be the fruit of this decision for others? Is this choice pleasing to God? Is this action a loving action or a selfish one? Am I acting primarily out of self-interest or out of a true desire to love God and neighbor? What are the fruits? Will they endure? If I am seeking only good for myself, this will not endure.