Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Many years ago, I transplanted some raspberry plants from my son’s house to my back yard. I hoped they would be very productive. I think they have their definition of productivity confused with their reproduction. My back yard, and the adjoining trees, and the neighbor’s trees, are now filled with raspberry canes. They are prolific reproducers but terrible producers. Last year I harvested about 12 pints of berries from my wild and free-growing canes.
Meanwhile, at my son’s house, there’s a small raspberry patch in their garden that is carefully maintained. It is one-fifth the size of mine. Yet they harvested five times more berries. I guess caretaking and pruning work. I will either need to become a better caretaker or mow them all down. But I fear that mowing them will only make them reproduce more.
Caretaking and pruning are spiritual principles of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. He told His disciples, “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 15:2) Jesus cares how spiritually productive we are. God the Father goes to great lengths to assure that we become fruitful in serving His Son.
There are two things the Father does to bring spiritual productivity to our lives. First, He lifts us up when we have been trampled in the dirt. When Jesus told us that every branch in the Vine that does not produce fruit is taken away, He used a word that means “to lift up.” Every branch that is connected to the Vine and is not bearing fruit because it has fallen down and gotten dirty is lifted up, cleaned, and carefully repositioned so it can bear fruit. The words of Jesus are not a statement of judgment, but of assistance and forgiveness from the Father. This is marvelous. When we fall, or fail, and stop bearing fruit, the Father comes to us to invigorate us in Christ to bear fruit.
Second, when we are bearing fruit, the Father comes to help us be even more fruitful by removing all the things that steal nourishment sent from the Vine. We all have things that steal spiritual nourishment. The Father knows about the sins we keep secret from others. He knows about our pursuits of pleasure and self-advancement. He knows about our desire for financial prosperity. He knows about the places we look for personal affirmation and value. Yet He comes, as a perfect Vinedresser, and begins cutting those things away. Initially, we feel loss. But the Vinedresser knows that whatever we consider loss in this life is counted as eternal gain. We will bear more fruit.
I am overflowing with thanksgiving right now. I am in Jesus. I am attached to the True Vine. When I am not bearing fruit, God the Father is faithful to lift me up and restore me. When I am bearing fruit, the Vinedresser provides for even more fruitfulness by removing everything that steals the Vine’s nourishment. I am bearing fruit for the King…and by His grace I will bear more.