“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 does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2 ESV).
I have made considerable strides in the development of self-discipline. I’m not where I hope to be, but I’m further along than I was. Self-discipline is one thing, but discipline from an external source is a “whole ‘nother story”. Paul spoke a lot about discipline. He seemed to concur with my opinion; “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant…” (Hebrews 12:11a ESV). If he had stopped there, we would have been completely on the same page.
Paul didn’t stop there, however. He continued, “…but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11b ESV). When we were disciplined by our parents or teachers we didn’t always have the “big picture” of where the discipline would take us. Or perhaps we did, but just couldn’t hear it at the time. But God begins to paint the scene for us. Peaceful, like a babbling brook in the forest. Fruit, like a sweet grapes plucked from the vine at just the right time. And righteousness, as only comes from communion with our Lord.
Jesus described that communion like this: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 ESV). In our lead text He describes the Father as the Vinedresser. Meticulously he cares for the vine and the branches. In order to maximize the potential of each branch He prunes away portions that divert valuable resources away from the fruit-bearing parts.
It doesn’t require much introspection to realize that there are things in our lives that are unprofitable and unproductive. We may run our lives like well-oiled machines, meticulous to maximize our time and resources,; but while some things may profit those for whom we work, and provide well for ourselves and our loved ones, they are doing absolutely nothing to help us be more fruitful Christians. I believe that we should take time to relax and recharge our batteries, enjoying life. But we also need to pay attention to the Vinedresser.
It has been my experience that when God wants to see changes in my life He begins by gently trimming the ends of the branches, gently preparing my heart to be willing to make a change. Sometimes it takes me a while–sometimes a long while!–but he is patient. I’m learning to say “Yes” to Him when brings out the shears. While I’ve always known, mentally, that He has my best interests in mind, I am learning from experience that this is true.
Jesus is the Vine. He is the source of our strength. If we remain intimately connected to Him we will receive the spiritual nutrition we need to grow and produce fruit. The Father is the Vinedresser. He gently works in our lives to remove the unfruitful parts, which use up our resources, so that we are able to produce more and more fruit.
When you hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit encouraging you to make a change, yield and submit to Him. It probably won’t be pleasant; it will likely be painful. But the intimacy that you develop with God, and the fruit that results, is well worth it!