“My people will again live under my shade. They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines. They will be fragrant as the wines of Lebanon.” (Hosea 14:7, NLT)
When we first married, my in-laws had grapevines which were massive – thick and growing on trellises which gave shade to their entire patio. My father-in-law was most proud of them, alwaying shared his abundance of grapes to anyone willing to make juice or jam.
While we enjoyed the relief from the heat which the vines provided, it was the fruit we admired andÂ patiently waited to ripen. The memories are sweet ones and I have not thought about those vines until reading these thoughts from Watchman Nee the other day:
“Who ever gave much thought to vine-blossoms? It is in fact one of the shortest-lived of flowers, scarcely noticed before it is gone and has already turned to fruit.
How tempted we are to display what is impressive to men, a blossom to be admired! But the Father has set us as branches in the Vine. There, what He seeks above all is fruit-bearing.”
(from Tables in the Wilderness by Watchman Nee, June 7)
There are three different types of plants. There are those which have flowers but no fruit. Then there are those who have both flower blossoms and fruit – think of peach or cherry trees. Lastly, there are those, like my father-in-law’s vines, flowers which are hardly noticed at all but … produce an abundance of fruit.
I think Jesus longs for us to be like the grapevines …
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more” (John 15: 1-2, NLT).
As we stay in close relationship with Jesus, an intimacy develops which produces fruitfulness – productivity – in our lives. But for the productivity to flourish, we must stay connected to the Vine.
God, as the gardener, will trim the branches, removing those things that distract and detract from the health of our lives. As painful as this may be at times, He does so in love, knowing once our lives are pruned, our lives will produce more fruit.
The world will tell us our productivity will bring us success, popularity, even a platform. Yet Jesus tells us our fruit-bearing – productivity – will cause those around us to take note of the Vine (Jesus) and bring glory to the Father.
“When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father” (verse 8).
It really is pretty simple.
We’re branches whose responsibility is to stay connected to the Vine.
Fruit bearing is for God’s glory alone.