I was pruning back my grape vine, a few days ago, and as I was cutting off a pile of "wild" growth Jesus' message about the vintner in John 15 came to mind. Back in the 80's I owned a 70 acre tropical fruit farm in Australia and there was always a need to prune back the trees. We had quite a variety, from bananas, through papaya, custard-apples (Cherimoya), figs, limes and mangoes. I learned from this that pruning is a very necessary operation. Not only does unproductive wild growth reduce the nutrients available to the productive branches and therefore have to be cut off, but the branches that produce poor quality or stunted fruit also have to be removed. Now, the latter can be a hidden problem to the rest of the tree. They have to be burned, because there are three things that could be causing the branches to bring forth poor fruit - (1) Insect Damage, (2) Disease, (3) Fungal infestation. All of these can spread through the tree and eventually cause the tree and even the whole orchard to be infected and die. All the removed branches have to be carried away and burned.
And when we relate this to sin and the SELF that sin grows on, both the sin and the self HAVE to be cut off from OUR lives. Not only will it affect our eternal life if it remains, but it can and will adversely affect the lives of others around us. When the tree has finished fruiting the good branches are also cut back so that in the spring new growth will produce healthy flowers and the healthy flowers healthy fruit.
A few years later at sunrise I was walking through a Macadamia nut farm, and as I walked with the sun behind me I saw the rays alight on the trunk of one of the trees. Like blood running out of a wound a red line of hardened sap ran down the trunk from a hole that was lit up under the poor and dying canopy of that tree. I walked closer and looked. The tree was dying slowly. A borer beetle had laid its egg under the bark of the bark of the tree, and the larvae had eaten its way into and up through the heart of the tree. The life-blood of that tree was pouring out and down the trunk as it succumbed to its intruder. As I looked, the Lord showed me how insidious, and often unnoticed, SIN will enter the heart and destroy us from within. This tree was now condemned to be cut down and thrown onto the fire and burned lest this infection of borer beetles spread through the whole plantation. Likewise SIN MUST be punished to save life.
Jesus taught,"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, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the Word which I have spoken to you. 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. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, so you will be My disciples."(John 15:1-8)
I am sure we all have heard the expression, "Abiding in Christ". When we come to Christ we become a part of "the vine". Jesus IS the vine and we are the branches. When we are "fused" to Him in "grafting" the life-producing and life-sustaining sap that flows from Him flows into us. The nutrients we need to produce "good fruit" in our lives come from Him. We are fed by the Word of God which the Holy Spirit opens up to us so we can understand and apply it to our lives. It is our NOURISHMENT. It is the sap of life that comes from the Living Word of God, Jesus Christ. It is as we APPLY it to our lives, letting this LIFE FLOW THROUGH us that we bear "fruit" which are gathered and consumed to bring nutrients and life to the eater. The word picture that Jesus painted is so very important to us as believers, because WITH this message from Him ALSO comes the warning to those who take NO heed and continue on their own self-centered, instead of Christ-centered, lives. He warns that unless we produce GOOD fruit we will be cut off and thrown into the fire to be burned. Beware of the lake of fire! We are not to just produce ANY fruit, or BAD fruit, but we must produce Christ-led, Spirit-filled fruit for His glory and praise. Sin must go. Self must go. JESUS is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and if we claim to love Him, then obedience is not an option. Abide in Christ and He in you and you will bring forth fruit unto eternal life! Let HIS sap flow in and through you!
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." (Gal.5:22-23)
Clare, Pastor of Meet Him at The Well
The Vine Newsletter - December 2021 (www.VickyandChuck.com)