“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”
Jesus as the Vine submits Himself to the will and ministration of the Gardener, His Father. If a branch is fruitless for any reason it will be cut off. Where a branch is growing strongly and bearing fruit it will be pruned to make it even more fruitful. Here He is describing the growth, development and nurturing of His Body, the Church. It is the Gardener who decides.
Those who have been involved with gardens will understand the process. I enjoy growing fuchsias from slips. As they grow the ends of the young shoots need to be taken off to get the plant to bush by producing more side shoots. In this way there will be far more flowers on a stronger and more attractive bush.
The same may apply from time to time in our own lives. We may be growing strongly in one direction and suddenly find that the Lord seems to be holding things back. This may be because we are neglecting other areas of our lives. It may also be because He wants us to bear more shoots – for example by involving more people in what He is doing through us. In this way both the ministry and the ministry base may develop.
Our ministry is not our ministry – it belongs to the Lord. And it only thrives where we are drawing on Him for our life and strength. The whole purpose of the Vine – or Body of Christ – is ‘to bear much fruit … fruit that will last.’ It follows that each one of us is also expected to recognise and fulfill our purpose of bearing much fruit – fruit that will have a lasting impact and value.
Note also with the Vine that it is as the life of the Vine flows into the branches that good fruit appears. So with us – it is as the life of the Lord flows into us that His fruit will begin to appear in our lives. The life comes from the Holy Spirit whom God has given to us – ‘The Lord the giver of Life.’ We cannot do God’s works or bear His fruit by ourselves – only by the Spirit whom He gives us.
“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6)
What needs cutting, pruning and encouragement?
Lord Jesus may Your life flow ever more strongly into me through the Holy Spirit whom You have given me – and may the fruit that I bear be of You and not of me. Amen.