Tim Clinton, Ed.D.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
— John 15:5
“Abiding is to be an act of the will and the whole heart. You are the branch.—You need be nothing more. You need not for one single moment of the day take upon you the responsibility of the Vine. You need not leave the place of entire dependence and unbounded confidence.”
— Andrew Murray
It is important for men to recognize God’s calling on their lives and to have great expectations of what He will do. However, it is equally important to recognize that none of us can do anything worth doing without Him. When we attempt to accomplish God’s work, or even live the Christian life, apart from an authentic relationship with Him, we get burned out, frustrated, and fail. It amounts to religion without relationship. but God created us for relationship. Dr. Henry Cloud notes, ““Relationship or bonding… is at the foundation of God’s nature. Since we are created in His likeness, relationship is our most fundamental need, the very foundation of who we are. Without relationship, without attachment to God and others, we can’t be ourselves.”
Any good work that is of lasting, eternal worth flows naturally out of a relationship with God. Our tendency as men is to grit our teeth and exert our willpower. We wrestle with ourselves toiling to do right, when our focus should not be on doing but on being; not struggling, but abiding. The problem with willpower is it doesn’t work. Fruit is never the product of willpower. It’s a result of abiding in the Vine. Galatians 5:22 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…NKV.” Isn’t that what we all want? It comes as a result of being with Jesus.
In the parable of the Sower, Jesus said he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the Word and understands it, and bears fruit (Matthew 13:23). Let your efforts be directed to hearing the Word of God and then allowing the Holy Spirit guide you to understand it. Then, in relationship with Him, as you abide, the seeds of His Word will grow and produce fruit—lasting, eternal fruit.
Tim Clinton, Ed.D., LPC, LMFT (The College of William and Mary) is President of the nearly 50,000-member American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), the largest and most diverse Christian counseling association in the world. He is Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Care, and Executive Director of the Center for Counseling and Family Studies at Liberty University. Licensed in Virginia as both a Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist, Tim now spends a majority of his time working with Christian leaders and professional athletes. He is recognized as a world leader in faith and mental health issues and has authored over 20 books including Breakthrough: When to Give In, When to Push Back. Most importantly, Tim has been married 36 years to his wife Julie and together they have two children, Megan, who recently married Ben Allison and is practicing medicine in dermatology, and Zach, who plays baseball at Liberty University. In his free time, you’ll find him outdoors or at a game with family and friends.