I live in a small hilly village whose slopes are filled with vineyards. I take my evening walks among the vines and marvel at the work the farmers do there. Growing vine is a year round work. I have watched how the farmers carefully plant the vine, care for it, kill the weeds around the young plant and tenderly grow it. They let the new canes spread on the constructed wires. Then comes winter and most of the growth is cut off except for two or three dead looking leafless twigs. And I have wondered how they are going to survive the cold and the frost.
As Spring and Summer come again, miraculously these dead looking twigs grow buds and life kicks in. The farmers carefully select the potential canes and remove every other extra shoots and even fruit clusters because they first want the vines to grow strong roots and trunk. Again in Winter, the canes are cut back. As the trunk gets strong and firmly rooted, new growth happens once again next Spring. The farmer watches every little bud grow into a branch and decides whether he removes it or lets it remain.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener,” said Jesus.
And what does the gardener do to his vines?
He prunes them to see them bear fruit.
Jesus is the true vine, rooted firmly in his Father he said, “I do nothing on my own, but speak just what the Father has taught me” (Jn 8:28). Jesus came to do the will of his Father; not his own will. He remained in his Father and was one with him.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you.
No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.
Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
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” (Jn 15:4,5).
I have watched what the farmers do to the branches that want to grow in their own ways, stretching out long twigs and bearing many leaves but do not have any fruit cluster in them. They are mercilessly cut away from the vine, collected and burned in fire. Whereas, those that bear fruit are pruned. They are carefully down-sized in their growth. So the energy from the vine can go into bearing fruits and not be sucked away by the many leaves.
You can easily differentiate between those who bear fruit and those who don’t by just looking at how their lives are pruned. Pruning is not a one-time experience. It happens daily. Pruning scissors come in many forms: lack of finances, rebelling teenagers, unanswered prayers, people lying about you, and so on. All these test how you come out bearing godly fruits, how you can still love your unlovable teenager, and how patiently you trust God while your bills are still unpaid and reminders keep coming. Every situation exposes that which needs to be cut-off from within us. The reason for pruning is to bear fruit and be more fruitful!
Pruning is nothing else than shaping and guiding how the branches should grow. Pruning is the removal of unnecessary growth within us. And we do have a lot of unnecessary things in us, like ego, pride, hate, jealousy, greed, lies, hypocrisy, double standard life, a private and a public life, cheating, cursing, deceiving and more. These are the dead wood that bring death to oneself and others around them. It destroys life, not produces life. They are dead because they are disconnected from the main Vine; they do not receive life from the main Vine. Death has to be removed and buried.
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit,
while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes
so that it will be even more fruitful, (Jn 15:2).
It is just not good enough to be a branch that only bear vine leaves and suck away the energy that is supposed to go to those branches that bear fruit clusters. There are lots of leaf-bearing branches in God’s vineyard that suck the time and energy and every effort of those who bear fruit. When the gardener goes through his vineyard he will mark those “energy suckers” to be mercilessly cut off from the vine. To remain in Jesus is to be fruitful. Fruitfulness means multiplication, which leads to filling the earth. This is the original and true blessing of God. Be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth.
Being successful, especially measured in the amount of wealth and splendor one has achieved, is not a blessing. That may be a payment of mammon. You work for mammon and he pays you with what is his. The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours” (Lk 4:5-7). Wealth can be a deception that mammon blinds you to believe a blessing. Wealth can make you greedy and can strangle you from not being a blessing to others. If that is true in your life, check out, you may be worshiping, serving a wrong god!
God’s blessing is always life-giving, birthing, being fruitful, multiplying and filling the earth with his presence and glory.
To be continued in “Blessed Fruitfulness” (Part 2)