|Photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly|
TO CHEW ON: "For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it is bears thorns and briers it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned." - Hebrews 6:7,8
The Bible has many references to the life of a plant as a metaphor for the spiritual life of a person or nation.
- Isaiah pictures God caring for His nation Israel as a gardener cares for his vineyard. He expects a healthy batch of wine, but the vines disappoint with their wild grapes. So He withdraws his protective care - Isaiah 5:2,6,7.
- John the Baptist picks up this warning about the judgment on unfruitfulness in his sermon on the banks of the Jordan, where he warns that unfruitful trees will be chopped off at the root - Matthew 5:10-12.
- Jesus talks about the unfruitful life in his Parable of the Sower. He blames the thorns of worldliness—"the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches"—for a lack of spiritual fruit - Matthew 13:22.
- In another parable, we see that fruitfulness is expected in trees that are part of God's orchard - Luke 13:6-9.
- Jesus describes His relationship with the plants in His garden in His True Vine talk (John 15). He shows God the gardener removing the branches that don't grow fruit and pruning the ones that do so they'll produce an even bigger crop (John 15:2). The secret of fruit-bearing, He says, is to stay attached to the vine. That attachment results in answered prayers and God being glorified - John 15:5-8.
- What a contrast this is to our passage from Hebrews which talks about the backslider—the once-fruitful person who has turned his or her back on the things of God. The writer says if this one who has "tasted the good word of God and the power of the age to come" falls away, it is almost impossible for them to return. He warns of a fate that is likely to be the same as a patch of thorns and briers "whose end is to be burned" - Hebrews 6:8.
We can apply these pictures to our lives as plants in God's garden.
* We realize that life's circumstances—both good and bad (His walls around us, His pruning of us)—are His way of ensuring and increasing our fruitfulness.
*We are aware of the part that our focus and priorities play on our fruitfulness (and guard against worldliness).
* We know that to stay fruitful we need to stay connected to Him.
* We are also aware of the fate of the once-fruitful person who has turned away from following Him and… well, we don't want to go there!
PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to be a healthy, fruit-producing plant in Your garden. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.