My husband fancies himself a farmer. He spent many boyhood years on the family farm. He feels a deep connection with earth. Because of this he thoroughly enjoys mowing the lawn. I think it helps him to rekindle his connection with dirt. Shortly after we moved to our home on Vine Street, the farmer in him came out and he planted some grapevines in our backyard. Our grapevines however do not look like the ones I see spreading over the hills of Paso Robles. The vines which dot the hills around the North County are healthy, green and lush. They are pruned and tied to grow in a certain direction. They produce lush, lovely, and abundant fruit.
Sadly, our grapevines have not been taken care of. Though my husband desired to grow lush lovely grapes, he lacked the time to take care of them. I have endeavored to care for the vines, but I hate yard work. Our grapevines do not produce lovely fruit. They hardly produce any fruit at all. We rarely prune them so the branches are spreading in every direction. The leaves have spots on them which is probably a fungus of some sort. They do get water, sometimes, and they are so sad looking that even the pests leave them alone. We have yet to harvest a crop for our grapevines.
In John 15, Jesus compares our relationship with Him to a grapevine.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (v. 5) The branches cannot bear fruit on their own. They must be connected to the vine. In the same way, we cannot bear fruit on our own. We must be connected to Jesus Christ; we must abide in Him, get our nourishment from Him.
Jesus also tells us in verse 1 that God is the vinedresser.”I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.” The vinedresser is in charge of caring for the vines. It is his job to cut away the dead branches and prune the good ones. By cutting away the unnecessary branches, more nourishment can be directed to the healthy part of the vine thereby producing sweeter and more abundant fruit. It is quite a skill to prune grapevines. One must know just the right branches to cut away and which to leave. Because God knows us intimately, he knows which branches in our lives to cut away. He prunes our lives with skill and love so not to leave us downtrodden. He uses His Word, His church, and His people to convict us of our sin and shed those things in our lives which keep us from bearing sweet, lovely, lush fruit.
The branches do not bear fruit to please themselves. The vinedresser harvests the fruit to give away to others. Such it is with the fruit that Christians produce. We serve others by bearing fruit. We also glorify God. John 15:8 says, “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” The loveliness of the branches and the quality of the fruit is a testament to the hard work and care of the vinedresser. By bearing quality fruit in our lives, we testify to God’s love and care for us. As Christians, it is our job to stay attached to the vine, Jesus Christ. We do this not only by cultivating our personal walk with Christ, but also by being a vital part of a local church body. Both elements add to our nourishment which allows us to bear fruit. The producing of fruit comes naturally to a healthy branch.
The grapevines in my yard are not productive because I did not want to do the work necessary to produce good grapes. When I look at my spiritual life, I do not want to be a shriveled, barren branch. I desire to be a healthy branch that produces much fruit. So I will abide in Christ, and I will submit to the Father’s pruning, knowing that His loving hands will prune only what is necessary; not too much and not too little. And I will spread my branches out in the direction the Father desires and watch as He harvests the sweet and lush fruit for His glory.