This week, there is a tiny but powerful word used: if. First, let’s make it clear that God’s love for us is not conditional. He gave an eternal gift willingly through the death and resurrection of Christ. However, it’s important to note that as believers, there is a link between love and obedience. Christ’s love for us drove Him to action. Love cannot exist without action.
The word love – mentioned three times in this single verse – has a powerful root. Love, in this context, translates to agape in the Greek. Agape is unconditional love – it requires nothing in return and abounds in grace (undeserved favor). We could read the verse like this: “As the Father has unconditionally loved Me, so I deeply love you with a love that requires nothing in return. Now dwell richly in My abounding grace.”
So often we try to add to God’s glory through our own efforts. 1 Peter 4:11 says, “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
As George Whitefield prays, “God, give me a deep humility, a well-guided zeal, a burning love and a single eye, and then let men or devils do their worst!”
“Wretched man that I am, who will rescue me from this body of death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24)
This is such a simplistic statement, yet intensely personal: I am the Vine; you are the branches. We are nothing less than a branch, and nothing more.
In Hebrew, the world abide – or yashab – means to sit. Sitting is a motionless verb – which is why it’s so crazy hard to do.
When fruit grows on a vine it begins to weigh down the branch and it bows low to the ground. Mud then splatters on the fruit from the rain or dust clings to it after a hot blowing wind. The fruit itself isn’t bad, but it needs to be washed so it can ripen properly.
The vine. The husbandman. And now, the branch. The branch doesn’t have to do anything. Simply by connecting to the vine, sap and strength flow into that piece of wood so it may bear fruit. Oh, how we strive, perform, and tirelessly labor to produce fruit at times! Yet, all God bids us to do is be still in Him.
Previously, we meditated on how Jesus is the true vine, which means there are vine substitutes in this world. Now He continues on and speaks of how God is the vinedresser. That’s not a word we use much in this area and day, but it refers to Him being the caregiver or caretaker of your life. He farms and tends to the soil of your heart so it offers deep root and abundant fruit.
We have the Exodus study going now (along with a hack-free blog!) and I mentioned starting some meditations on John 15. These are meant to be meaningful snippets to bring refreshment throughout the week. There is a short verse, then a bit of application. At the end there is a moment to praise Him, confess to Him, and petition Him. Make this portion your own – and from your own heart. I’ve provided words from my own soul to simply guide you.