I’m a big fan of bananas. It probably isn’t my favorite fruit, but it is the fruit that I eat the most. Bananas are awesome. They are good for stopping cramps (at least that’s what they told me when I played football in high school). They taste good. And I’m sure there are a slew of other things they are good for, but I’m not going to remotely pretend to be a nutritionist.
I like bananas, but I couldn’t enjoy the benefits of bananas if they are on the tree. And before you try to make the case that I could climb the tree and eat them there, I would hasten to clarify that much like I am not a nutritionist, I am also not a monkey, gorilla, orangutan, or any other species that can climb trees. For bananas to be a beneficial fruit, it has to come off the tree.
I think sometimes in life we can forget this about the things that we do. We can get to the place where we wrap ourselves up in what we do and what we are trying to produce that we start to find our identity in the work. We can push so hard to accomplish something that the pain of separating from the work, the pain of letting go of the effort, is so great that we refuse to release it to benefit others.
I think this is why Jesus says to his disciples: “I am the vine; you are the branches.” He makes their identity clear. You are a branch. You are not the fruit. Branches bear fruit, but you are not the fruit.
I know that I can easily get caught up in trying to produce fruit, that I can sometimes find myself finding my identity in the fruit. But I am not the fruit.
I don’t know what fruit you are trying to produce but never forget that you are not the fruit. This truth is paramount because if we start to identify ourselves as the fruit, when the fruit is pruned, we will struggle to produce fruit again.
See the fruit will be pruned. It’s not a question of if, but when. Fruit is not beneficial unless it is pruned. The pruning is coming. So don’t forget: You are not the fruit.