A couple of weeks ago we got the opportunity to go to a local vineyard to help harvest grapes. We didn’t just harvest the grapes but we also asked about how they care for the vines in the vineyard. There was so much to learn, even more so when you apply the information to the Biblical references.
The grape vines are planted along a trellis system which consists of sturdy posts connected by heavy gauge wire stretched between them. The grape vine is trained to grow only along the wire. It isn’t allowed to start branching earlier before reaching the wire nor is it allowed to grow much taller than the trellis wire. The early training will affect the future crops and ease of harvesting. Fruit isn’t important or even desired until the vine is trained well.
Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
The fruit our children produce in the future will depend much on how well we trained them when young, even before there was much opportunity for them to produce fruit.
Many types of grapes particularly the fancier “table grapes” are grown from vines that are more sensitive to disease and inclement weather. Muscadine vines that grow well in the South USA are often used as the root stock for more sensitive grapes. Those grape vines are grafted onto the sturdy Muscadine vine roots. The weaker grape vine branches cannot produce due to disease and parasites unless they remain in the rootstock vine.
John 15:1-6 (ESV)
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
2 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.
3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
4 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.
5 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.
6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
Throughout the Bible the analogy changes around some concerning the vine and vineyard. Sometimes the Lord is the vinedresser while other times He is the vine. In Proverbs man is referred to as the vinedresser.
Proverbs 24:30-34 (ESV)
30 I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense,
31 and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.
32 Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction.
33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,
34 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.
Have we let the weeds over grow our vineyard? Are we letting the little seemingly insignificant things grow into choking weeds?
Allowed the walls to be broken down by bit by bit? Letting down our guard just a little here and a little there?
Think we can take it easy now once we are believers? Become lax in prayer and Bible study?
Has the weeds, broken down walls and laziness kept us from producing fruit?
What happens to non-producing fruit vines or branches?
John 15:2 (ESV) 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….
John 15:6 (ESV) If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
But notice John 15:2, even the branches that do produce fruit will be pruned. Just as in the vineyard after the harvest they will prune and trim back the vines until very little of the newest growth remains, the Lord will prune our lives so that we may bear more fruit in the future. Much fruit.
John 15:8 (ESV) By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.