Do you ever think, I wish I were more loving?
I’m often dissatisfied with my inability to love as perfectly as Jesus. I want my own way, and I justify this attitude with lots of ‘reasons’! The Bible always has the answer to such prevarication, but let’s call it by its proper name: sin.
In relation to this, I’d like to tell you something about our garden. We have sixteen new fruit trees there now. They stand in front of the new paling fences and will eventually be espaliered, which means they’ll be spread out against the fence. From the kitchen window, I can see them with their little ‘arms’ outstretched, waiting to be attached to the trellis as they grow.
When we brought them home from the nursery, Maurie pruned them before he buried their roots in the soil. Such young things, I thought, being pruned so early in their lives. But they’d already experienced it before we knew them; they were familiar with the process.
There’s an old story about pruning. One day Jesus told his friends, ‘I am the Vine and you are the branches, and the Gardener, my Father, has to prune you’. Ouch! I’ve often suspected that God’s pruning would be painful, but when I read Jesus’ story more carefully, I realised that he never said it’s a punishment. So what about the pain from the sharp secateurs and the loss of wood? Well, the tree accepts it. And why? Because it’s a reward for producing fruit!
Our small trees haven’t borne fruit yet, but we expect it. Like the branches on Jesus-The-Vine, they must be prepared so they know what their life-task is, and how they are to produce mature fruit.
Jesus told his friends that they’d already been pruned by the words he’d said to them. Here are some of his words:
Make yourself at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love.
As always, he set the example. He loved them because he’d made himself at home in the Gardener’s love by doing what his Father said. That’s why he can tell us to do it. He loves us so much.
Some of our dwarf peach trees are already blossoming, and although the branches of the pear trees are still like twigs, one day they will produce! The inside of the tree is where it gets its ability to ‘grow up’. That’s why God always starts on the inside. He sent his Holy Spirit to live in my spirit so his fruit will be more than outward show. He wants to permeate my whole being. I can’t bear good fruit on my own.
I have no idea how to prune fruit trees, but Maurie, who grew up on his father’s orchard, and planted his own many years ago, does it almost instinctively. I see his hands holding the slender branches while he takes his snips and cuts confidently. He knows how that branch will follow.
That’s how we learn to love. I need to remember Jesus’ words every time I want to love someone. I want his words to bear fruit in my life.
Do you want that too?