Read John 15:1-27
Spring has just arrived. The sign of newness surrounds us as we see the grass return to a lush green and hear the songs of the birds. Soon I will return to one of my favorite hobbies- gardening. Anyone who knows me, knows my happy spot is in the soil. I am amazed how many spiritual lessons are hidden in the art of gardening.
One summer, when I tended to my tomato plants, I noticed a straying branch. It was no longer tied to the stake and was burdened by its own weight. Without the support of the stake, the branch would bend and eventually break from the main vine. Any fruit that it produced would rot on the ground. Even as an amateur gardener, I knew the branch needed to be secured to the stake so that it could remain on the vine. As I tied it to the strength of the stake, I was reminded of this passage in John 15.
“Abide in Me, and I in you.”
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so 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, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.
It means to dwell or live. John was especially fond of this word. He used it again in his first letter to fellow believers.
“The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”
1 John 2:6
Our natural tendency is to stray from the vine, Jesus Christ. As we strive to bear fruit on our own effort, apart from Him, the weight is too heavy and we break under the burden. The fruit is useless and it will rot on the ground of our own making. We can do nothing apart from Christ. Just as I had to secure the branch to the tomato stake in order for it to remain, or live in the vine, so we must secure our life to the Way, the Truth and the Life, Jesus.
The image is beautiful, but the application is not easy. Jesus said:
“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.”
John reiterates Jesus’ words in 1 John 3:24:
“And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in Him. And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”
To abide in Him, we are required to keep His commandments. As the Psalmist says, we are to establish our footsteps in His Word (Psalm 119:133). How are you abiding in Christ? Are you striving to obey His Word? Are you bearing much fruit?
Galatians 5 states that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Is that fruit evident in your life? If not, perhaps you need to see if you are secured to the Vine and tied to Him by the rope of obedience. For when we cling to Him, His right hand upholds us (Psalm 63:8).
Gardening lesson 101- Cling to the Vine!