Monday, July 7, 2014

When Production Goes Wrong

Is the Christian life really about production? If you read my last post, I hope you agree that the answer is a resounding "yes".  Jesus said that producing fruit brings glory to the Father and proves the reality of discipleship (see John 15:7-8). He also taught that we would know the quality of people by the fruit of their lives. Fruit is the metric by which a follower of Christ can differentiate a good leader from a bad one (Matthew 7:16-20).

If producing is Jesus’ idea, why are we so afraid of it? I think instinctively we are afraid of the unhealthy counterfeits of the production mindset. Production can turn toxic when either one of two attitudes is present. When that happens we end up far from the production that Jesus was looking for.

First comes when we see the production of fruit as a means to earn favor with God or with man. When that attitude exists it undermines the very nature of grace. Dallas Willard once said, “Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. Grace, you know, does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone”. God loves us as much as he ever will. Our production does not impact his love for us in any way. Production may earn greater favor with man, but if that is your motivating factor, you may want to ask yourself how much you are in touch with God’s love for you.

The second problem comes when we attempt to produce fruit by our own effort. In the great passage about bearing fruit, Jesus says, “apart from me, you can do nothing”. (See John 15:5). Self-effort to produce fruit often leads to a lack of transparency. It is like buying plastic fruit and taping them to a tree in order to make it look good. According to Jesus, our self-effort ought to be in our focus to abide in Him as a branch abides in the vine. Fruit comes as a result of a dynamic, abiding relationship with Jesus. I’ll write more about that next time.


  1. Effort is good. Hard work is good. Obedience is good. Being pleased with my effort is good. What is also necessary is giving God the credit and glory for making it all possible in the first place--the way, the truth, the life, and the love. We have gone way too far in trashing effort over the years. Context is critical.

  2. Hey "fromthevine" that is a good point about context and also making sure that fruit glorifies God. Thanks.