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The joy of obedience

When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! John 15:8-11

Bearing fruit is expected from the life of a Christian. This includes the deepening of one’s own spiritual consciousness and closeness to God. A Christian may be lacking in one area, but that does not mean that he is not bearing fruit in other areas. Only God can give a true estimate of the fruit in a person’s life. When we go through good fruit country and see a tree producing a bountiful crop and we can be sure that the connected circumstances are favorable. The water, the sun, the soil—each is doing its part. When the Lord Jesus Christ talked about the productive vine, He mentioned what are involved in producing good fruit. The branch is connected to the vine and remains in God’s love. But besides love, there is obedience. Obedience is the resulting fruit when we claim we love God. “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Such actions bring joy in the life of a believer. It is not a fleeting moment of lightheaded glee, but a deep-seated joy that comes from God. Jesus spoke of it as His joy. “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:11). If we thought that abiding in the vine-like branches constitutes some mystical relationship, we learn immediately that it centers on obedience. And when we obey Christ’s commands, we follow His example with the Father.

Several times in the gospel that Jesus spoke of joy. In the Garden of Gethsemane, as He was about to face His arrest, He prayed “I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them” (John 17:13). This is a joy that the world cannot know for it is dependent not on circumstances but on our relationship with Christ. This is a joy of complete self-surrender and love toward God. In the process of coming to completion, this joy includes suffering, service, and the noble self-surrender of the disciple to his Master. This joy is what every Christian can and should know as he serves his Lord.


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