If you’ve seen ivy or even “domesticated” wisteria and clematis that have been allowed to run free, you can envision a people out of control. A vine does what it does best…spread. There are other plants like the Western Pacific Northwest’s ubiquitous blackberry vines, or the (what becomes) noxious mint plant.
I like blackberries. I like mint. However, their plants can leave a lot to be desired. If left unchecked, they will conquer a yard (or in the case of the blackberry, the state). I have seen ivy plants choke off and kill beautiful pine trees. I have seen wisteria “worm” its way into decks until the deck is deformed and needs repair.
If left alone, most plants go “wild”. A wise and experienced pruner (or gardener or vinedresser or arborist, etc.) will prune and trim to guide the plant toward optimal growth. Interestingly, the vision of different pruners will result in plants that can look similar or can look wildly different.
A pruner may choose to prune what seems to be good young fruit because they can see that the branch on which that fruit grows may be endangered or will later endanger other branches and fruit if allowed to grow. Even successful fruit growing branches may be pruned.
One of the concerns regarding Christians is that many think that once they are on the vine of Jesus, they’ve arrived. Arrival only happens when we stand before the throne of grace and have to answer for what we have done with the gifts and graces that God had given us.
There are some who think they are like the vines in Isaiah that are secure behind protective bushes and thick walls. Those that think they are so protected often succumb to arrogance and laziness. This can be because they think they are the “city on the hill” or a “blessed nation”.
Others think that because they produce “good” fruit that there will be no trimming or pruning involved. They are firmly based on the “root” (Jesus). They may receive even more trimming and pruning to increase their production of good fruit. The sad part is what fruit might be lost during that pruning. For God’s greater glory, however, such pruning may be necessary.
The last group is a cautionary tale for us all. Paul addresses the Israelites who have been trimmed from the trunk. Paul addresses the Gentiles who have been grafted into the trunk. Over time those grafts are almost as if they were always part of the trunk. Those grafts, however, can be removed.
There is no surety of maintaining one’s grafting except relying fully on God. The arrogance of being the original (the Jews/Israelites) or the grafted (the Gentiles) is a barrier to bring the unbranched (those that do not yet know Jesus as Lord and Savior), and (honestly) is a barrier to one’s relationship with God.
There is the surety in trusting in God and salvation through Jesus. There is the danger when that trust turns into an illness that turns hearts away from God.
※ Questions ※
1) What or where is God pruning in your life?
2) Is God’s pruning where there is fruit, or is God pruning where there is wildness (not conforming to God’s plan)?
3) How does arrogance or presumption affect one’s salvation relationship with God? How does it impact what others hear/see about God?
※ Prayer ※
Lord, may we be aware of what you are pruning in our lives. Help us to be faithfully and hopefully looking for what will happen as a result. Amen.