What does it mean to abide in the vine? Let’s explore what Jesus said about it—“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.” (John 15:4 ESV)
My family once moved into a house with a yard that came complete with grapevines. I’m not an avid gardener, so I had to learn how to care for these plants if we hoped to gather a harvest. My new hands-on experience helped me better understand what it means to abide in the Vine.
In the physical realm, sap flows from the grapevine to the branches. The healthier the connection between the two, the more potential there is for fruit to be produced. But if the branch is somehow severed from the vine, sap cannot flow and grapes will not grow. The connection between the vine and the branches determines the harvest.
In the spiritual realm, Jesus is the Vine and those who believe in Him for salvation are the branches. The stronger and healthier the connection between the Vine and the branches, the more spiritual fruit will be produced.
Commentators differ in their thoughts about what the “fruit” mentioned might be. Some say it refers to new converts to the Christian faith. That’s to say, then, that the Holy Spirit flowing through the lives of believers draws others to a place of trusting Christ for salvation.
Other commentators say it refers to the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Perhaps it’s a bit of both: When we abide in the Vine, that is, when our relationship with the Lord is healthy and unrestricted, the Holy Spirit flows in our lives as physical sap flows from the vine to the branches. He then produces character qualities in us that create curiosity in those watching us. If they don’t already know Jesus, they want to know what makes us different. They’re open to hearing stories of what God has done in our lives and the difference knowing Him makes. As a result of our example, they might choose to follow Jesus too, and God’s family grows.
The Greek word for “abide” implies “to dwell” or “to stay.” It infers a continuous act, not a state of being that’s on-again, off-again. So—our relationship with Jesus is to be constant and ongoing. And it’s a two-way thing. We abide in Him, and He abides in us. He fulfills His role by placing the continuous presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of His followers to teach, counsel, guide, comfort, and conform us to Christ’s image. We fulfill our role by choosing to stay close to Him.
Based on Jesus’ teachings, here are three things we can do to abide in the Vine:
Become Familiar with God’s Word
John 15:7 says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” We read and study and meditate on Scripture so we can learn to understand God’s thoughts and values, and to gain wisdom regarding the way He wants us to live day to day.
Obey God’s Word
Simply reading or knowing or even being able to teach God’s Word isn’t enough. We need to obey His words, for obedience proves our love for Him. “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (JOhn 15:10) So—as Jesus obeyed His Father, so we are to obey Him.
Follow Jesus’ Example
“By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:5-6). Abiding in Christ means we seek to model His grace and patience and kindness. We speak up boldly when truth is at stake. We say no to temptation and flee from it rather than flirt with it. We defend those who cannot defend themselves, and we love others even when it costs us something.
That sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it? And it is. Apart from the Holy Spirit’s continuous presence and work in our lives, there’s no way we can hope to achieve it. As John 15:4 says, the branch cannot bear fruit apart from the vine. Only when we abide in the Vine can we produce an abundant harvest.
Did you notice that two of the verses I just quoted contain promises?
Here’s the first: When we abide in Christ and His words abide in us, then we can ask whatever we wish and He will bring it to pass. Isn’t that amazing? Remaining close to Him and filling our minds with His word aligns our hearts with His. When our desires match His, then we pray according to His will which guarantees we will receive what we ask for.
John 15:10 contains the second promise: Keeping Christ’s commandments ensures we abide in His love. This doesn’t mean we earn His favor through good works. It means that we demonstrate our love for Him by doing what He says. We love Him, and He loves us. As a result, we grow in intimacy with Him. Our relationship deepens and sweetens and grows stronger and more delightful.
God’s plan is for His children to lead fruitful lives. We do that when we consistently abide in the Vine. Let’s do our part to keep our connection with Him strong, and let’s enjoy the harvest He brings.
May I pray for you?
“Father, thank You for teaching us how to live fruitful lives. Help us be faithful to abide in You through studying Your Word, obeying it, and following Jesus’ example. As the branches, we want our connection with You, the Vine, to be healthy and strong so our lives will bear much fruit that will last thoughout eternity. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Take a few minutes to let this catchy tune bless your heart. It was new to me, and I suspect you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07nI8uLwmNo
Order my latest devotional book, Fresh Hope for Today: Devotions for Joy on the Journey for 90 daily meditations that will encourage you to abide in the Vine.
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