Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples.
I. HOW IS GOD GLORIFIED? It cannot be that we can add anything to His intrinsic excellence. We can glorify a man by office, by honours, in various ways; but nobody can add anything to God. We can glorify Him only by revealing in some degree what His excellencies are. No man can glorify the sun; but when the day has hung drooping, and by and by the clouds begin to fold and spread, and here and there sun bursts come in, and at last the every-increasing light sweeps out of the whole heaven every cloud, we do not create the sun, and we do not burnish it; but the wind reveals it. And we cannot in any way increase the glory of God; but in our lives and dispositions we can make known to men the quality of Divine attributes. One drop of water is enough to teach us what liquid is, but one drop of water would not be enough to teach us what the Atlantic ocean is if we had not seen it; and so one single development of love reveals the glory of the God of love, although the ocean, the tides, the infinities that belong to the Divine Nature we shall not know until we behold them from a higher point of vision, even if we do then.
II. IF WE BEAR MUCH FRUIT WE GLORIFY GOD. What the fruit is we know already. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace," etc. These are very precious fruits, and the more we bring forth the more we reveal the nature of God. A diamond is nothing in itself; and yet, having the power of refraction and reflection, it in every facet gives brilliance and colour from light. So it is with those who are really God's gems and jewels. The light that flashes from their lives from day to day reflects Him, and makes men easily to know Him. Call back the example of Christ. He was perpetually endeavouring to teach that the development of a beautiful life was the power that He sought to establish. It was not an order of the priesthood or philosophy, new institutions or methods that He was seeking to build up; it was to take man by man, and develop in him the kingdom of God. That is the lever, and the sight of the highest form of manhood is the instrument by which the world is to be converted — has been, is, will be.
III. INFERENCES. If this be, then, the substance of Christ's teaching — bear much fruit; so shall ye glorify your Father — then I remark —
1. That the growth of the Church is not by the numbers that are in it, but by the graces, the beauty, variety and ripeness of Christian character. Whatever tends to make men, looking upon you, revere you, love you, whatever lifts their conception of your spiritual excellence, gives strength to the Church.
2. The courses which glorify God and make the Church rich are within the reach of everybody. There is an impression that the men who have great gifts, great knowledge, are the glory of the Church. No; it is the man who has the most fruit of the Spirit of God; and the qualities that constitute fruit are those that are open — to the child, to the ungifted, to the ignorant. Everybody knows, or may know, how to be gentle. Everybody knows how to use his tongue, not as a sword, but as an instrument of pleasure, profit, and instruction to other men. There be Christians that say, "I never speak in meeting; I can't." Very well, that is all right. To be dumb when you ought not to speak is a very good Christian grace. "But I am of very little account. I only wish I could pray as I hear brethren pray. I should be glad to rise in the meetings sometimes; but I know nobody wants to hear me." You are not fit to exhort; and nobody wants to hear you explain Scripture; but if God has brought you out of sorrow, and you have a word of testimony as to how in some gracious hour the heavens cleared, and your soul was lifted on high, then you will be listened to with interest. No eloquence is like that of a fact of soul experience. The power of the Church lies not in its ordinances, not in its creed, but in the life of its members. It is not a declaration that creeds or organizations are valueless. A fence is a very good thing on a farm for the sake of the crops that grow inside of it; but there are any number of Christian farms that have high fences, and that have not a thing growing in them but weeds.
3. God saves by few rather than by many. One single electric light in a hall is better than five hundred candles. So one glowing and eminent Christian life is better than a whole church full of tolerable Christians; and usually I think it will be found that in the activities of the Church it is the few and not the many that give it quality, influence, power. I do not think there is anything on earth more beautiful than a vine. But some Christian vines have not a solitary grape on them. They are empty vines. But there are some that have two or three clusters, here and there. There are one or two things which they do that are conspicuous and excellent; how many Christians are there whose branches are loaded with the choicest fruit, that fills the air with its aroma, and delights the eye, and much more the tongue, if one be privileged to pluck and eat? "Herein is My Father glorified that ye bear much fruit."
4. Faith in Christ is like faith in any master. If one, conscious of ignorance in music, goes to some celebrated pianist to take lessons, he has faith in him, showing it by the fact that he accepts him as a teacher, and then puts forth all his exertions to do the thing he is taught to do. If a man goes to some great master to study art, he has faith in him. Knowing what his reputation is he betakes himself to his instruction, and attempts to develop form, grouping, colour, sentiment. Now faith in Christ consists in putting yourself into His hands, that you may be what He was — you according to the measure of your nature what He was according to the measure of His nature. "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ." Put on the graces that made Jesus Christ preeminently the Man of all time — the God-man; and whoever accepts Christ, and every one of all the attributes then eventuated in His life, has faith in Him.
5. The tendency to judge of revivals is, I am afraid, becoming more materialized. Men glorify God that a great outpouring of His Spirit has filled the Churches. With what? Some rivers, when they come down in freshets in spring, bring sand, and destroy the meadows over which they spread themselves; while some bring loam, and refresh all the meadows where the detrius settles down, increasing the soil. And a revival is beneficial not by the number of persons supposed to be converted, but by the quality of the conversion they have gone through. The boy preacher, Harrison, informed me that there were twenty-six hundred persons converted in one city where he was. Twenty-six hundred gardens of the Lord! Well, I would like to see those gardens. I would like to see what they bring forth. If they simply say they are in the Church, and have a through ticket paid up to heaven, and go back and live just as they always have lived, I do not very much esteem that; but if there could be twenty-six hundred persons that break out with the blossom and fruit of the Lord's garden in their hearts, and they could all be brought into the Church in one company, the millennium would be the next step, right outside the door. Communities could not stand such a cloudburst as that.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.