Can you hear me now?
John 15:1-5 - 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
When I was growing up in Brooklyn, my grandmother had a beautiful, thriving vegetable garden with lots of different kinds of vegetables, among them, trailing squash vines. As I helped her in the garden, she told me that the pretty, yellow flowers on these vines would potentially be pollinated and produce squashes. She would examine the vines to see which vine had a healthy squash growing on it. She would take special care to water, fertilize, and tend that vine. She would prune, trim away, the flowering vines that grew off that vine, which didn’t make sense to me --- if a flower was a potential squash, why cut them off?
The squash grows because it is connected to the vine, which is connected to the roots in the ground. Much in the same way, we grow as Christians when we are connected to Jesus. As the squash vine gets water and nutrients from the soil through the vine, we get our strength and life from Jesus. If the squash is cut from the vine, it will die. If we are disconnected from Jesus, we do not grow.
Grandma pruned the stray vines so the vine with the squash can grow big fruit. She wanted the water and fertilizer to be used to grow the squash, not grow the vines without squashes. When we are doing too much without consulting the Father, everything suffers – we are spread too thin. After all, God knows our time, energy, and resources. If we do what He wants us to do, we will have the resources. If we do more than He has planned for us, even if it’s good, we feel crunched for time, pressured to get it done, and tired. If we abide in Christ, the Father will tell us what to prune. In this way, the fruit that remains can grow and mature. Don’t do the good at the expense of the great.
Grandma watered, fertilized, and tended the vine. She gave care and attention to the vines. As a plant needs water and fertilizer, we grow when we read, study, and meditate on the Scriptures. We pray to the Father and ask guidance from the Holy Spirit. These disciplines are our water and nutrients, with which we grow.
So, how is your connection with the Father?
What disciplines can you do today to growing that relationship and bear fruit?
What can you prune so God’s desired fruit can grow?