Dwells in the abiding love of God and extends this love to the family.
We live in an action-oriented culture. As a dad, I often want to get to the point in the conversation with my boys where I can offer some advice, give them a particular instruction on what they need to do, or just figure out what they are asking for me to do. The problem with that tendency is that I run the risk of cutting off or circumventing some of the personal emotional or spiritual maturation that they need to take the time to work through.
This is not abiding and at times the drive to accomplish something to help one of my sons can get in the way of their developing the ability to learn how to help themselves. There are times in which I have to remind myself of the bigger picture and how abiding in Christ’s love within the context of the family plays into the discipleship of our boys. It takes understanding to still yourself as a parent a resist the temptation to jump into action and instead abide along with others in our family. Understanding the to abide in love with one another does not mean having all the answers. Rather it means being fully present with my sons in their times of need.
Returning to John 15, if we examine and reflect upon the nature of the fruit that God prepares us to produce in our walk with Christ, we realize that we are not talking about something that ultimately we are the primary source for that production. Consider the pruned branch referenced above. You would not get upset with that branch for not producing fruit. You wouldn’t yell at the branch trying to force grapes to grow. No, you would attempt to graft that branch back onto the vine in order that the life-giving nutrients from the vine would restore the branch to health and in turn produce the desired fruit. Likewise, you would not blame the Cabernet grapevine for not producing Malbec grapes simply because you prefer Malbec over Cabernet wine. Rather you would understand that the particular varietal of grapevine will produce a particular type of grape and thus type of wine.
This applies to our abiding in Christ together as a family. Each of our children was created by God to produce fruit distinctive to who they are. Further, that fruit is more a product of God working in and through them than their own self-determination. Now, I know that this runs counter to much of the emphasis in our culture and perhaps even to a natural drive toward our own pride in our children. We rightly want to build them up to feel that they can accomplish much and that is good, right, and salutary. However, in the mix, we cannot forget the role, the critical role, that God plays in this equation.