I come from a long lineage of good gardeners. My mother has always had a skill with flowers. She knows where each blossom would flourish the best and even what to add to the soil to promote further growth. Cuttings from her gardens of flowers are often used for seasonal arrangements in her home or to share on any given occasion.
My grandmother was also a gifted gardener, tending to her raised beds of fruits and vegetables. I loved the raspberries she would grow along her fence row. With them, she would make raspberry jelly to spread in homemade crepes sprinkled with powdered sugar for breakfast. To this day, every time I eat a raspberry I think of her.
And then there is me. I am a terrible gardener. I would love to be a good gardener. And so I keep trying. I especially like to try to grow herbs because I love cilantro for my tacos, basil for my caprese, and mint for my tea. But unfortunately I usually only get a few small yields from my garden before the plants die.
Someday, I would love to be a master gardener. Lucky for me, our local 4H has a master gardener class I can take. Until I make it certificate “official,” I rest in the assurance that God is the master gardener with the ultimate green thumb.
While fruitfulness is an important part of gardening, it is also a central component of the Christian walk. In the parable of the vine and the branches (John 15), Jesus uses a gardening metaphor to explain our purpose in life. In these verses, God is the gardener, Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. Within these Scriptures, Jesus outlines three main concepts we can follow to be fruitful with our lives.
To be fruitful, we must first plant ourselves in Christ. Jesus teaches in John 15:4, “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain on the vine.” This concept of remaining with God is the key to our Christian faith. The vine was created for the purpose of staying rooted and for bearing fruit.
Jesus is communicating this same concept to our lives – to stay rooted in Him and be fruitful by sharing His love to lead others to Him. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. I don’t know about you, but I want my life to count for something, not nothing!
Secondly, we must be pruned. John 15:2 says, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” God will prune everything in our lives contrary to His purposes. It is not if we will be pruned, but when and why. He is often cutting from our lives and perhaps sometimes He is cutting good things to make room for the best thing.
No matter the reason, God has a plan. We simply must trust in His providence and be patient in the process. During those seasons of pruning, it is essential to dig our roots even deeper in Christ. He is the nourishment we need and the only source that will ever sustain.
Full of Fruit
Lastly, we must produce. Read Jesus’ instruction in John 15:8 – “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Not a little fruit. Much fruit. Does this challenge you like it does me? What kind of fruit do people experience after an encounter with you? Can they identify you as a Christ-follower based on your fruit? Matthew 7:16-20 says you will recognize them by their fruit. A good tree bears good fruit and a bad tree bears bad fruit.
So what exactly is good fruit? Galatians 5:22 describes this fruit perfectly. The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Being fruitful shows we are His disciples.
Although I readily admit that I am not the best gardener, I am thankful I know Who is. This is beyond just horticulture; it is about Heaven. By remaining planted in Him, being patient in the pruning, and producing much fruit, we are fulfilling our purpose here on Earth. We too can have a green thumb when we remain connected to God. Let’s bear much fruit – fruit that will last for all of eternity by loving one another as Jesus the vine so beautifully displayed.
Lord, help us to stay planted in you, let us be patient in our pruning, and give us your heart to bear fruit for your Kingdom and your glory alone. To you be the glory!