In our ‘self-sufficient society’ it’s so easy for us to get caught up in all of our “doing” & our “to-do lists” especially in ministry, and so often we forget to stop & examine our own spiritual lives. Stopping to take inventory of the “fruit” that we’re producing or to notice if we’re even producing fruit at all. I’m not talking about evaluating the events we’re planning or the bible studies we’re facilitating but what is Jesus doing IN us that is budding forth from our personal spiritual growth and producing ‘spiritual fruit’ in our lives.
There are times in our spiritual life when the Holy Spirit shows up to give us a reminder of a lesson that He desires that we go back to “revisit”. For me, the Lord often guides me back to the most common story or passage of scripture in order to refresh my memory about how He desires for me to live my life and ministry. Over the last few weeks it has been one of those “revisit the lesson” moments for me from John 15 about “The Vine and the Branches” allegory that Jesus gave to His disciples.
I think there are three reminders as leaders and as disciples of Jesus that we can glean from this passage.
1. Pruning can be painful, but is necessary.
In John 15:1, Jesus make it clear to us that HE is the true Vine, and His Father is the Vineyard Keeper. Every branch that does not produce fruit, the Father takes notice of, and verse 2 tells us, “He removes, and He prunes it”.
I’m not much of a gardener myself, in fact I can barely keep a house plant alive! But I do know this, that pruning is tedious & is never fun!
But as I studied the word “pruning” my eyes were opened. To prune means “to cut off, cut away, undesired twigs, branches or roots; to trim; to rid or clear of; to remove anything considered superfluous or undesirable”. This pruning process can sometimes be painful for us as Christ followers, but it’s necessary to keep us healthy and growing. This is necessary verse 2 says “so that the branch (us) will produce MORE fruit.”
Sometimes the difficult seasons or lessons we walk through in this life are exactly this… “pruning seasons” with the Lord and we don’t even recognize it! He is busy cutting away and trimming off the undesirable things from our hearts.
2. Remaining in Him is CRUCIAL for our life & ministry.
Jesus reminds us in verses 4 & 5, “Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do NOTHING without Me.”
Apart from Jesus we can do nothing! Can I get an AMEN?!
We can organize, meet and plan until we’re blue in the face but without Him it’s all for not!
3. Remaining in Him is our choice.
He concludes in verses 7-8, “IF you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ASK whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is GLORIFIED by this: that you produce MUCH fruit & prove to be My disciples.”
IF…”If we remain”… It’s our choice.
We can live our lives and run our ministries on our own initiatives or we wake up each day, remain on the Vine, open to be pruned by the Vine Keeper if necessary, and bearing much fruit for the Kingdom as we minister out of the overflow of what Christ is doing IN us.
Jennifer is wife to Brian Mills, mom to McKenna & Parker, and co-author of “Salvaging My Identity” and “Even More,” both 40 day journey’s for girls and young women. After 12 years of serving alongside her husband Brian in full time student ministry, Brian now serves as the Ministries & Teaching Pastor at Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, TN where Jennifer is actively involved with both girls & women’s ministry. Jennifer has a passion for studying and teaching God’s Word and seeing girls & women discover a passion for the Lord and His Word for themselves!