But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor: yet what I shall choose I know not.…
St. Paul is balancing the comparative advantages of death and life. He is doubtful which to choose. To die is gain; to live is to be fruitful. When he has put the question in this form his doubts vanish. Gain for himself is not to be considered in comparison with fruit for his Master and for mankind.
I. THE END OF CREATED NATURE IS THE PRODUCTION, OF FRUIT. It is through fruit that the life of nature is prolonged, for the fruit is also the seed. The purpose of grace is that it should be fruitful. The Lord desired that his disciples should glorify God in bringing forth much fruit. It was in seeing his seed that he was to prolong his days. When the harvest of the world is ripe it will be reaped. When the number of the elect is complete the end will come.
II. FRUIT CAN ONLY BE PRODUCED BY THE SURRENDER OF LIFE. The corn of wheat must die if it would bring forth fruit. The vine must be purged. The exuberant natural growth of the plant must be checked if it is to be fruitful. The tree which bears leaves only is not merely useless, it is doomed to destruction, since it has no power of reproducing the life which has been bestowed upon it.
III. Our prayer should be, not that we may GAIN salvation for ourselves, but that we may bring forth FRUIT for our Master's service. - V.W.H.
Parallel VersesKJV: But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.