"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener...This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." John 15: 1,8
Recently we visited a friends' house. Their garden is amazing--everything is just overflowing with veggies. There are tomato plants with 20+ plate sized tomatoes on them! In comparison, our garden is limping along. We have some fruit, but neither the size or amount.
What's the difference? Well, some of it is the type of plant, but we actually shared some seeds, so some are the same plants. But there are big differences:
--Support structures. Our poor tomato plants laid on the ground for a while before we staked them up. The other gardener built large cage structures around them, giving good support to all the branches, allowing them to bear many large fruit without breaking the branches.
--Fertilizer. They mulched and composted heavily last fall, digging deep in the dirt and mixing in many nutrients from grass clippings, leaves, and their compost pile.
--Water. We haven't been as regular in our watering schedule, but I know the other gardener is much more regular about it, and waters only the roots.
--Pruning. Our friend told us we needed to pinch of the suckers on the tomato plants so they'd be able to put energy into bearing fruit instead of growing plants, but we couldn't tell which were suckers and which were branches, so it didn't happen.
--Harvest. We had a bunch of beans go to seed because we weren't harvesting, so their production has gone down.
Isn't the same true for our spiritual lives? We bear more fruit (and better fruit) when we have invested lots of time and energy into preparing the ground before planting the seeds, when we have good support systems, when we've pruned the "suckers" from our lives, when we have lots of water from the Word and worship, and when our fruits can be harvested to benefit the Gardener.
Help us bear fruit, and bear it abundantly. Help us do the gardening work, of supporting, wattering, pruning and harvesting...and help us find a church home/pastor that is commited to cultivating good fruit in the lives of its members.