Have you ever ordered something on-line expecting it to be one size, only to be disheartened when it arrived? Have you believed the marketers’ promises of special amazing features, only to get half of them functional? Has there been a time when you purchased something that looked really good from the outside, only to be disappointed with the results?
Left unto ourselves, that’s what can happen to us spiritually. You and I may produce plenty of leaves. We might look like flourishing plants! But there may not be much fruit on our branches.
What might be keeping us from our blooming potential? Jesus addresses another key component for developing a fruit-bearing life in John 15. Maybe you and I are in need of a good cleanse.
Extra leaves and stems consume the nutrients and resources needed for fruit-bearing. One way the Vinedresser cleanses the branches is to strip the life-sucking extras in the spring that drain nutrients from producing fruit. Note, this is His regular activity. You and I repeatedly find ourselves in need of a good spring cleaning. Although we have nothing to do with it, I find it helpful to acknowledge this reality by inviting God to do His work in me.
I’m not discerning enough on my own to become more like Jesus, recognizing what is hindering fruit-production versus what is necessary for growth. But I can pray for a willingness to cooperate with anything and everything that lines up with Scripture. I might ask myself:
• What seems to spike up onto the calendar appearing urgent and overcoming the important?
• To what establishments is my money spent? Are they God-honoring – or do I spend money just like everyone else?
• Do my possessions look like the pile at my neighbor’s, who is NOT aiming to bloom for Christ; or is there a distinct contrast between us?
• Are my actions God-honoring to those around me? Or am I stuck in the same emotional rut I found myself one, two or five years ago?
The key here is this: it’s not enough just to look good. Looking like a fruitful branch is not the same as being one. We need the supernatural touch of the Vinedresser.
“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 it so 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, 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. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 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. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
May we be receptive and open to receive whatever cleaning the Father sees fit to do in our lives so that we will become more and more fruitful from the inside out.