Abiding in the Vine
A large branch, broken off its tree, sat on the side of the road as evidence of a recent thunderstorm and awaited pick-up by the city workers. Over the next few days, the branch’s leaves wilted and turned an ugly brown. Once vibrant, green, and alive, the branch was now lifeless and discolored. It had been severed from its tree and cut off from its source of nutrients, and, as a result, was dead.
I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.
In John 15:5, Jesus described Himself as the Vine and His disciples as the branches. To continue to flourish and bear fruit, Christ’s followers must remain in Him. As we go through the storms of life, the howling winds may try to blow us down, but we must continue to receive our strength from the true Vine, trusting in Him to keep us strong through all of life’s tempests.
There are many things that may try to rip a branch away from the Vine and keep it from bearing fruit. Pride. Temptation. Busyness. Frustration. Self-reliance. Fear. Doubt. Disillusionment. Persecution. When these storm clouds begin to gather, we may begin to neglect our spiritual disciplines. We become more like Martha and less like Mary and spend more time focusing on our worries and circumstances than we do sitting at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:38-42). When we take our eyes off Jesus and put them on ourselves, other people, worldly pleasures, our work responsibilities, our disappointments, our circumstances, or anything else, we are in danger of becoming like a broken branch.
While Jesus and his disciples were traveling, Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his message. By contrast, Martha was preoccupied with getting everything ready for their meal. So Martha came to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to prepare the table all by myself? Tell her to help me.”
The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.”
Every branch needs the water and nutrients that only the vine can provide to it. We too must continue to abide in the Vine, hungering and thirsting for His righteousness and relying on Him to provide us with the life-giving nutrients we need to grow and flourish. We must continually meditate on and follow His Word. Only by allowing His Spirit to guide us and by following His ways do we find true success, bearing fruit that helps His kingdom to grow and prosper. Just as every branch requires pruning, so also God corrects us, purifies us, shapes us, and transforms us to become more like Jesus as we spend time in His presence through prayer and Bible study.
If we choose to remain in the Vine, He will be faithful to his promise to remain in us. God’s grace can hold us steadfastly through any storm. And He has promised that abiding in Him brings complete joy, unlike any happiness the world can provide.
Discussion Questions: Pruning (even though it may be uncomfortable or even painful at times) is necessary as branches continue to grow. How has God been “pruning” you lately as you continue to grow in your relationship with Him?
For further study: Joshua 1:7-8; Psalm 1:1-6; John 15:1-8; Hebrews 12:1-17
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