The psalmist claims in Psalm 1:1-3 that a fruitful garden (the garden being a metaphor for life) is accomplished when the gardener takes “delight” in God’s Word and “meditates” on it day and night. The Hebrew word for “meditates” means chew. The allusion is that in the garden of life one gets all the nutrients he needs by chewing on God’s Word. It’s not hard to see the similarities here to planting seeds in soil which has the proper nutrients. If seeds need to be in nutrient-rich soil to thrive, so does our soul and God’s Word is the soil we must be planted in.
Jesus used another agricultural example to further illustrate this principle (Jn. 15:1-5). In Jesus’ version a vinedresser is examining his vineyard and pruning off branches that aren’t producing fruit. There are two harvests in Israel- one in the Spring and one in the Fall. Gardeners prune in the Spring to encourage the branches to produce fruit. But they also prune a second time in the Fall- after it has become evident that the branches pruned in Spring were fruitless. The discarded branches ended up making some nice kindling, but that’s about all they did. The branches that are generally cut off are those branches that appear to have the promise of fruit, but in the end do not produce it. Those branches were sucking nutrients away from the good branches, so they needed to be removed. Like the plants in the garden of Ps. 1, the branches which produce fruit on this vine are fruitful because they are connected to a nutritional source. They are connected to the vine. Jesus claims that in order for us to produce fruit we must be connected to Him. He says that “apart from Him we can do nothing”. I can’t think of a better illustration. A branch not properly connected to the vine produces no fruit- we can see that! If we are not connected to Jesus, we will not produce the fruit He desires. What kind of fruit is Jesus looking for?
You were probably thinking of the Fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:22-23 when you read that question. That’s a great response! But it would do us well to look at what happens if we do not “abide in Christ”; if we do not stay connected to The Vine found in the verses which precede the “Fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:19-21). If any one of the things listed in those verses is evident in your life, it may mean that you are not connected to the Vine when it comes to whatever is causing it. I know it’s easy for me to say, “Well, I don’t have to worry about idolatry, drunkenness, sorcery and all those things on the list attached to inappropriate sexuality”. BUT I’m not completely off the hook. What about envy? Oh yeah- I deal with that sometimes. Outbursts of anger? It’s easy to find excuses for those! Even the godliest of people will face some of the interpersonal/relational struggles on this list because the flesh is prone to all of those (2 Cor. 6:18-19; Gal. 5: 16-17). So when Jesus does His Spring pruning on us, it’s then up to us to become a productive part of the vine by responding to it (Prov. 3:11-12; Heb. 12:11).
However our Gardener has not left us to take care of ourselves. By remaining or abiding in Him, by meditating on His Word as the psalmist suggested, we as His garden can produce the fruit He desires which has led me to think about the most necessary item if you are to have a garden at all. Seeds. We all know the Parable of the Sower. Most often we hear messages on that beloved parable that focus on how the Gospel is spread and who responds to it. But that is not really the point of the parable. It’s really all about FRUIT. Each one of those seeds falls upon the ground. Each one produces a plant. But not all of the plants thrive due to the place where they have landed. Without stretching the parable’s limits to where it should not go, our focus should remain on the type of fruit each seed produced. Jesus wants us all to be like the seeds which landed on the good soil. He wants us to produce fruit.
So my musings on gardens and seeds has caused me to look over my life and examine it to see if I’ve been a seed which fell into good soil. Have I watered myself with God’s Word? Am I connected to the Vine? Have I produced fruit? Lord, I pray the answer is yes.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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