Jeremiah 12:2 (NIV)
You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit. You are always on their lips but far from their hearts.
In the first portion of this verse, Jeremiah compares the people of God to a type of plant that has been put into the ground, has taken root, is growing, and is producing fruit. That illustration is indicative of what God wants for us and the relationship that we have with Him.
Plants, whether you’re talking about a houseplant or a massive tree in a forest, are always growing. When they aren’t growing, they’re dying. Those are the only two options. While the growth of a plant takes place slowly, healthy plants are constantly maturing while those that don’t have healthy root systems slowly die away.
As we prepare to learn more about getting on God’s growth track so we can become the disciples that He wants us to be, let’s take a look at the principles that Jeremiah outlined.
First, the plant that He is comparing God’s people to was planted by God. When you accept God’s free gift of salvation, He plants you into a relationship with Him. If you’ve ever planted something, you know the amount of care that goes into that process. You don’t just dig a hole and throw something into it. The soil is prepared, the area is cleared of hindrances to the plant’s growth. Preparations are made. In the same vein, when God plants you, He does so with the utmost care.
Once the plant was put into the soil, it took root. For us, we take root when we fully commit our lives to God’s leadership. We take root when we start striving to apply His Word to our lives and trying our best to obey Him.
Finally, the plant to which Jeremiah compared God’s people began to grow and bear fruit. That’s what we’re going to look at today. How can we begin growing and bearing fruit? It doesn’t matter if you gave your life to Christ last weekend or if you have been following Him for decades. God wants to see growth in His people. Today, discover more about what it means to get on God’s growth track so you can take your next steps towards becoming the disciple that God wants you to be. Once your planted and you’ve taken root, how do you grow and bear fruit?
Studying God’s Word
Hebrews 6:1-2 (NIV)
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lad to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement.
Depending on how long you have been following Christ, it may be difficult for you to remember the earliest stages of your Christian life. When you were first saved, you had a basic understanding of God and His Word. You knew that God loved you, that Christ died for you, and that He raised again on the third day. According to Romans 10:9, your belief in those basic tenants of the faith is how you were saved.
According to the author of Hebrews, it’s important that we don’t spend our entire Christian lives only focused on those basics. While everything in our Christian lives ties back to those things, it’s important that we learn more about God through His Word while we’re growing and bearing fruit.
God’s Word is His written plans and desires for our lives. He put everything that He needs us to know about Himself in the Bible, and He wants us to pursue Him through His Word, growing in our knowledge of His character. Take a moment and think about the most important relationship in your life. Whether it is a friendship or a romantic relationship, it’s safe to assume that you know more about that person today than you did when you first met them. We learn more about God when we read His Word. This ensures that we’re growing and puts us in a position to bear fruit.
Strength in Numbers
Romans 1:11-12 (NIV)
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong-that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
You’ve probably heard it said that there is strength in numbers. While this principle has been applied to a variety of things, it’s especially true when you’re talking about spiritual growth. The word “encourage” literally means “to put courage into someone.” Paul was telling the Christians in Rome that he wanted to get to where they were so that they could put courage into each other through their faith.
Connecting with other believers is a powerful step in growing spiritually and bearing fruit. Proverbs 27:17 says that “as iron sharpens iron, one person sharpens another.” God created us to be connected with other Christians.
While you may be able to navigate your Christian journey without close relationships, it will be much harder, growth will be slower, and it is much less likely that you truly bear fruits. God called us to be a part of His family, and that means that we are connected to other members of that family.
When pursuing the type of growth associated with discipleship, consider the fact that Christ called 12 disciples to follow Him closely. Out of those 12 people, Peter, James, and John, were often called apart from the rest of the group to be a part of major events during His ministry. Christ promoted connection and togetherness in the original 12 disciples because He knew it would promote growth. The same can be said for us.
Communication is Key
Luke 11:9-10 (NIV)
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, the one who seeks finds, and the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
If you want spiritual growth, God will give you exactly what you ask Him for. However, it’s important to remember that He wants you to ask. In the verses that we read in Jeremiah, the prophet said that before the tree could begin growing and bearing fruit, it had to take root. Obviously, trees cannot verbally communicate, but the process of taking root puts them in constant connection with the lifegiving soil where the tree is planted.
In the same vein, prayer keeps us connected with God, the Source of life that we need in order to not only survive, but to thrive. God wants you to communicate with Him. This isn’t because He doesn’t know what you’re thinking and feeling. Instead, it’s because He wants you to get into a habit of connecting with Him each day.
When you read the Gospel accounts of Christ’s life, you will find that He often went away from the crowds so He could pray. He was one with God, but He still wanted to take time each day to connect with God through prayer. We should certainly do the same.
When you improve your prayer life, you experience a deeper connection with God. This deeper connection produces growth which leads to bearing fruit.
A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I want to grow in my relationship with You. I want to be more closely connected to You both so I can endure the things that I face, but also so I can bear fruit. Help me to make the changes necessary to be a better version of myself. In Christ’s name, Amen.