Remaining in the Vine (John 15:8-10; 16-17)
Five times in His teaching on the vine and the branches (John 15:1-7), the Lord Jesus said, “Abide in Me.” He was making clear what is our responsibility and what is His part in setting priorities and making decisions. Being a branch is like being a servant who obeys his Master’s directions and does not take matters into his own hands. It is not up to us to make plans; the Spirit of Jesus directs us. That is what it means to live the Spirit-filled life.
Once we have surrendered everything and accepted our place as a branch in the Vine, how do we remain in Him? It takes faith, trust, and obedience. Our faith will keep our mind focused on the Lord, our trust will strengthen our relationship with Him, and our obedience will help us remain close to Him.
God has a purpose for His “branches,” which is to produce great amounts of spiritual fruit. (Galatians 5:22-23) He desires that everyone see His transforming works in us and that they be drawn to the pruning knife and remove from us whatever is not bearing fruit. Our salvation is secure in Him, but everything else in our lives is subject to being cut back. God’s trimming is always done out of His deep love for us, and we should remember it is limited to what is necessary.
Children of the Lord are the only ones who can express His character, and our ability to do so comes from living an abiding, Spirit-filled life. In what ways are you starting to look like your Savior? Here are two key points that we can adapt to exemplify the Lord Jesus Christ in our walk and service for Him:
Point #1. The Key to Servant-hood ((John 13:3-16)
One reason so many Christians are discontented and unsettled is that they haven’t learned what true service is. Somehow they get the idea that just coming to church is the best way to serve God. But when Jesus talks about service, it always consists of pouring your life into somebody else.
The Lord demonstrated what He meant when washed the disciples’ feet in the upper room during the Last Supper. In so doing, He showed that the key to servant-hood is humility. Unless we are willing to stoop very low and get dirty in our service, we have missed the whole point of servant-hood.
A true servant does not wait to be asked. Nobody asked Jesus to go and wash the disciples’ feet. Jesus as He saw and did what was necessary, a true servant will be alert to identify the need and will volunteer to meet it. He will quietly go about his service without looking for recognition or reward. He is satisfied and contended with the overwhelming joy that comes by simply giving.
A true servant must learn to receive as well as to give. That is usually very difficult for servants. Jesus told His disciples that if they did not let Him wash their feet, then they had no part in Him.
Peter balked at this because he was too proud to receive such care. (v. 8) We must not be so tied to conventions and egotistical pride that we say no to somebody who lovingly desires to “wash our feet.” True servants learn both how to graciously give and how to humbly receive.
Point #2. The Requirements of Servant-hood (Luke 19:1-10)
We are never more like Jesus than when we are selfishly reaching out to meet somebody else’s needs. When we have received Him as savior and yielded to Him as Lord, our lives become a living expression of the One who came to be a servant to all. As servants, we need to incorporate the following ingredients into our lives.
1. Awareness. Jesus stopped under the sycamore tree because He was aware that Zaccheus was up there. How many needy people are “hiding in trees” while you walk by them without looking up? Does the people of Puerto Rico ring a bell? Most of them are still in need of basic resources that we take for granted. We are very fortunate and of a fact ungrateful to God. Going to church for most people today is a thing of the past. The norm is, I can worship at home.
2. Availability. When Jesus spotted Zaccheus, He did not make an appointment to see him three weeks later. Being available was such a priority that He dropped whatever agenda He had and went to Zaccheus’ house. The Good Samaritan (Jesus) portrayed just that to the man that went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Yes, the storm had destroyed lives and resources. But God, through it all will never leave them, nor forsake them. He loves them and cares for them.
3. Acceptance. Jesus didn’t wait for Zaccheus to get cleaned up and get his
life straightened out. He accepted him just as he was. We must never forget how Jesus embraced us, filthy rags and all.
4. Abiding. When we are saved, we become grafted into the vine of Jesus
Christ. Abiding in Him is the only way to find the resources to serve other people, as they need to be served.
- Abandonment. When God calls us to pour our life into someone else, we
have to abandon our own selfish desires. We are free to serve others when we
leave our self-seeking ways behind. Jesus came as a servant, not as a superstar. (Matt. 20:28) He tells us to go and do likewise. At the outset of accomplishing this goal we will be rewarded.
The Rewards of Our Service (Hebrews 6 :7-12)
Someday, when you and I stand in the presence of a holy Christ and our life in its entirety appears before us, our works will be judged, and we will be rewarded accordingly. That will be a very solemn moment because some will suffer heavy loss while others will receive a great reward.
We are not talking about salvation here, because salvation is never a reward for services rendered—it is simply a gift offered to everyone who receives Jesus as Savior. But rewards are different. They are tied to service. The best way to serve and attain the promised reward is to serve out of love, instead of performing Christian service, so that others will be sure to notice it.
Are you under the leadership of Jesus the true vine, the source of all spiritual life for God’s purpose and people? As the vine-dresser, the Father removes what is unfruitful and prunes. Fruit bearing lives to make us even more Christ like in character and witness. Go light the world and bear fruit for the Master!