Earlier this spring, I wrote about a Wisteria vine that follows a fence at the corner of our street. This year it was full and the vine produced prolifically.
The mass of flowers hides the source of the plant’s power – the vine stem itself.
The vine is strong, solid, and firmly embedded in the ground. From its roots, the entire plant derives its strength and nourishment, enabling it to bloom and give its flower for all to enjoy.
As Christians, we too are to produce fruit for our Lord. In order for us to do this, we must be firmly grafted to the Vine. Jesus used the vine and branches analogy when He said:
“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 does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
The wisteria branches need the vine stem for their strength and nourishment. Likewise, we have strength for our life in Christ as long as we “abide” in Jesus, when we are attached to our Lord through the Holy Spirit’s power. When we are depending on the Vine for our strength, direction, words, actions, then we will be able to bear fruit for Him.
In his sermon entitled The Secret Of Power In Prayer delivered on the Lord’s Day Morning, January 8, 1888, at The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, Pastor C. H. Spurgeon talked about an individual who exclaimed “I have something to do!” without regard to being in the Vine.
“’I have something to do,’ cries one.
Certainly you have, but not apart from Jesus. The branch has to bear fruit. But if the branch imagines that it is going to produce a cluster, or even a grape out of itself alone, it is utterly mistaken. The fruit of the branch must come forth of the stem. Your work for Christ must be Christ’s work in you or else it will be good for nothing.
I pray you, see to this. Your Sunday school teaching, your preaching or whatever you do, must be done in Christ Jesus. Not by your natural talent can you win souls, nor by plans of your own inventing can you save men. Beware of homemade schemes. Do for Jesus what Jesus bids you do. Remember that our work for Christ, as we call it, must be Christ’s work first if it is to be accepted of Him. Abide in Him as to your fruit-bearing. Yes, abide in Him as to your very life.”
[Sermon #2002 Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 1 Volume 34 www.spurgeongems.org.]
The flowers cannot bloom and grow without the stem’s strength. If they are cut off from the vine’s stem, they will die in time. So too, if we work for the Lord in our own strength and power, using “homemade schemes” or using our talents without regard to the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be ineffective because, apart from Jesus, we can do nothing for Him. John 15:5. We may be good people, and we may even do nice things for others, but there will be no spiritual fruit because only God through the Holy Spirit can produce that fruit.
As Spurgeon says it: our work “must be Christ’s work first if it is to be accepted of Him. Abide in Him as to your fruit-bearing. Yes, abide in Him as to your very life.”
I pray that this rendition of the hymn “Abide with Me,” played by Eric Wyse on Reflections – 60 Songs of Devotion, will focus your mind and heart on our Lord and His grace that has been given to you through His Spirit.
Father, forgive me when I have run ahead and done things for You when You did not tell me to do so. Forgive me when I have relied on my own strength, talent or power to “work for You”. May I rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance and for strength as I live my live for Your honor and glory alone.