You Can Do Nothing (A Real Motivational Message):
Jesus said, “You can do nothing.” (John 15:5).
In June of 2002, I was invited to speak to Regent Christian Academy’s graduating class at their grad ceremonies, and I shared this message with them: “You can do nothing!” Not the most motivational message a graduating class has ever received, I’m sure! It makes me think of this top 5 list of inspirational sayings you’ll never see:
- Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.
- Artificial intelligence is no match for Natural Stupidity.
- If you can stay calm, while all around you is chaos…then you probably haven’t completely understood the situation.
- When the going gets tough, the tough take a coffee break.
- Aim Low. Reach Your Goals. Avoid Disappointment.
Now some of you may wonder where this message is coming from. “Wait a minute,” some of you will protest, “most of your devotionals up to this point have been encouraging. This one seems rather depressing – telling us we can do nothing!” Well, before you get mad at me, remember, it was Jesus who made this statement. But for the sake of clarity, let’s read the Scripture in its context, shall we?
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 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 15:4-5).
Ah! Now we see what Jesus is trying to say here. In our own strength and abilities, we can do nothing – of lasting importance in the Kingdom of God. Without Jesus, we can do nothing. Jesus is comparing Himself here to a plant. He is the vine, and we are the branches. A branch can’t bear fruit by itself. If you cut a branch off of a tree, it will wither up and die. But if that branch abides in the vine – stays connected to the tree – the life of that tree will flow into the branch. In the same way, when we abide in Jesus by reading His Word, and spending time with Him in prayer, we will bear fruit. Much fruit, Jesus said. Abundant fruit.
Do you want to do something great for God? Do you want to bear fruit in the Kingdom of God? Jesus said that apart from Him you can do nothing. You can’t be holy. You can’t be loving. You can’t please God. Apart from Jesus, you can do nothing. But if you abide in Jesus, and He abides in you, then you will bear much fruit. You can be holy. You can be loving. You can live a life that pleases God. There’s another Scripture in the Bible that says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13). So, even though on your own, you can do nothing, if you abide in Jesus, you can do all things, through Him. And so you see, this is a real motivational message after all. With God, all things are possible.
Pastor Chris Jordan