The vine and the brambles

“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, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15: 1-2)

How easy it is, when things don’t seem to be happening, to be discouraged. We say, “Lord, should I be doing this? Should I be doing that? It doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.“ And the Lord answers: “Do not be discouraged. Look at the vine, and look at the brambles.“

There is the vine, the true vine, which is Jesus; and there are brambles, which are the things of the world. If we love Jesus, we are in the vine. Brambles grow quickly and spread everywhere; but the vine is tended by the vinedresser and only grows according to the vinedresser’s plan, which is to maximise its fruitfulness. Fruitfulness comes from nurturing selected shoots and pruning others.

And alongside the pruning comes the clearing. In 2 Cor 16-18 Paul writes:

And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”
Therefore “Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.’”

As well as the fact that our Vinedresser is always watching over us with his pruning shears in His hand, some of us in the vine have got brambles filling up the space in our lives: we need to come out from among them. They scratch and tear, we cannot move freely because of their thorns, and they choke our growth, as Jesus reminds us in the parable of the sower. God is looking for holiness, and it’s only in the separated vine, tended in its own uncluttered patch, where the Life of Jesus can flow freely and bring His growth.  Brambles maximise the berries they bear by spreading opportunistically wherever they can. It is not so with the vine: the vine bears clusters of grapes under the vinedressers hand, maximising every branch in the vineyard. When we are being pruned we need to feel the Father’s loving hand in our lives, and not just the sharpness of the blade.

It is so easy to look to the world’s model of growth – the bramble – and to be discouraged because we don’t see that rampant growth in our own lives and ministries. But Father says this: “Don’t be discouraged. Look to where I am pruning. Has there been a little growth there? Yes there has. I am pruning It so that there will be more. And see that branch, that I have just cut away? You won’t miss it, even though you think you will. It was using up your life no purpose.”

Wherever I turn at the moment, it seems that God is clearing and pruning: in my own life, in my business, in church (mine and others), in people I meet. The devil wants us to look at the brambles and feel dissatisfied. But we are not unaware of his schemes (2 Cor 2:11), so but let’s be prepared and let’s be encouraged: if God is pruning, it’s because fruitfulness is coming.

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