By Barbara Heil
Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away,
and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes,
that it may bear more fruit. ~ John 15:2
“I am the True Vine”
I lived in California as a child, and one of my parent’s favorite weekend getaways was to California Wine Country. They would often take us kids with them! We toured the wineries, marveled at the enormous vats, and listened to lectures as we sipped soda while our parents tasted the different wines. I heard a lot about grapes.
As of today, there are 10,000 known varieties of grapevines worldwide! Only ten are the most grown and prized of those varieties, and not just for wine. Table grapes are served around the world!
What does someone look for when planting a vineyard, choosing a vine? They look for what kind of fruit will be produced, how much will be produced, and how it tastes. The quality of the fruit is entirely dependent on the vine it comes from. Every single grape is a seed to reproduce the life in the vine!
In the sermon of the Vineyard, Jesus calls His followers to a life lived with deep reliance on Him. “Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.” How often have I tried to produce fruit on my own? “Look what I did”! We strive and compete, trying to prove our worth. But in the Lord’s vineyard, success or achievement is not necessarily fruitfulness. Bearing fruit is not about what I’m accomplishing. It’s His life being produced or reproduced in mine.
I am powerless when I am not living in union with Him as my source, and this is why He prunes every area of my life that is not feeding on His.
“You are pruned by what I have spoken”
I used to think it was hardships that were pruning me. This is not what the Gospel says. Jesus says, “You are pruned, [cleansed], by the words I have spoken! Hardships may reveal a place of mistrust, weak faith, or false thinking, but the pruning is His doing as I apply His words, His teaching, and His ways to my life. His loving heart cleans the areas of my life that are not reflecting His, thus bringing hope and joy. Sometimes it is painful to let go of my ways and adopt His, but in this way, I begin to live a life that is no longer producing the disfigured fruit of my efforts but the lovely fruitfulness that comes from Him.
Father, in the Name of Jesus, I ask you to show me the places in my life that are disconnected from You. I ask you to reveal areas where I am trying to go it alone, rather than draw from You, my Source of Life. Please forgive me, Lord, and teach me to trust Your process in my life.
Call to Action
Trust the Vine-tender. Begin to read the Scriptures, especially the Gospels in a systematic way, every day. Jesus said it’s His words that cleanse or prune us, causing us to bear more fruit. Keep a journal of the places Holy Spirit is pruning, and snipping away unfruitful branches, thoughts, and attitudes that are not like Him. Rejoice where you see growth, and increased fruitfulness.
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