Master Gardener

April 9, 2011


Enjoying Spring!

I’m sitting by my bedroom’s bay window watching a pair of bluebirds flutter around the birdhouse where they’ve built their nest. The Japanese maple in my flowerbed is almost in full leaf, waiting for the purple irises underneath it to show their color. Columbine have put up their buds, and the pink peonies are almost ready to explode into their glory. I watch God unfolding spring and it makes me worship. I open the Word and read about the Master Gardener: 

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so that they will produce even more. You have already been pruned for greater fruitfulness by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from me (John 15: 1-4, NLT).

This Scripture bothered me for a long time. I couldn’t see past verse 1: “He cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit” (the Amplified adds, “that stops bearing”). I focused on what God would do with the pieces He had cut off. But I’m not the vinedresser! It’s God’s business what He does with the dead wood.

In fact, the Greek word expressed here in English versions as “cut off, remove, take away” doesn’t mean that at all! The Greek word is actually “airo,” transcribed in the interlinear versions as just “take.” It means, “to lift, carry, take up or away.” It is much more expressive than our English version of “cut off.”

This rich verb makes a significant difference in considering a vine. Vines have runners that trail along the ground and get sidetracked. Some of them, if left to themselves, will run along the ground and develop sucker-roots to try to become new vines themselves. That activity saps the strength of the vine and weakens its ability to bear fruit. So a diligent Vinedresser lifts up those errant branches and trims away the suckers. Perhaps He doesn’t need to prune them; maybe He simply redirects them.

The idea of this passage isn’t wrath. The focus of the passage is the love of God. His love cares for the life of the vine. The Vinedresser rejoices when it bears fruit. He will do whatever it takes to bring the potential of the vine to fruition, including wounding productive branches through pruning so that in the right season, their fruit is sweet. He may dump smelly fertilizer around the roots or cover the vine for a while if there’s a frost while its blossoms are still tender. If I’m in Christ, I don’t have to worry about what He’s producing in me. He is going to do what it takes to make that happen.

Now I can see God at work, both in pruning scraggly branches and in jerking the errant ones out of the ground and trimming off their suckers. And it there’s dead wood clinging there that has already accomplished His purpose, I’m sure He knows what to do with that, too.


2 Responses to “Master Gardener”

  1. Etta Malcolm Says:

    This spring I have returned to gardening after a number of years. Now, I can appreciate the beautiful analogy of the Master Gardener and the act of pruning which He must do in order for us to flourish.Thank you for a beautiful post.

    • Thanks for your encouragement, Etta. Too often I focus on the wrong thing when the Savior is all about drawing me to Him and showing me the details of how He really loves us. My prayer lately is for Him to keep reminding me of His Presence and make me aware of His activity in my daily life.

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