“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.” – John 15:1
In Chapter 15 of the Gospel of John, Jesus uses an agricultural allegory to explain how his followers are to bear spiritual fruit. First, let’s define what we mean by spiritual fruit. Ultimately, it is becoming more like Jesus and making disciples. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In addition, spiritual fruit can refer to those who follow Jesus as a result of our co-laboring for the Gospel.
Now that we understand what spiritual fruit is, how do we bring it about in our lives? This is the beautiful part: We don’t! Our role is to abide. God’s role is to bring about fruit. In verse 1 of John 15, Jesus explains that He is the Vine and God is the Vinedresser. Later on in the chapter, we are referred to as branches. Branches cannot bear fruit if they aren’t connected to the Vine. Jesus is saying that our spiritual fruit can only come through Him.
He also talks about God as the Vinedresser or Gardner. He has two roles: to prune branches that bear fruit and to cut away dead branches. Gardeners will prune fruit-bearing branches in order to increase their yield in the coming seasons. God does this in our lives, too. This pruning process can often be painful and uncomfortable. It involves the cutting away of habits and thoughts that do not align with God. However, God’s pruning is always done with care and precision. He only prunes that which is fruitful, and He does so in order to produce more fruit.
His second job is to cut away dead branches. This can refer to people who don’t truly know Christ. They may profess to be believers, but their lives have no likeness to God’s. In other words, they are not bearing any fruit. If your life is not bearing fruit, you may want to question your connection to the Vine.
Pruning is a painful process and often feels uncomfortable. Nonetheless, it is necessary for our spiritual health. Is there anything in your life that needs to be cut back? Perhaps you have elevated your ministry, job, family, or relationship status above God. Maybe you are living selfishly, struggling with pride, or holding onto greed. Whatever it is, spend some time in prayer. Ask God to make you more like Him. Remember, we serve a gracious God who will only prune that which is for our ultimate good.