I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.
-- Genesis 17:6
Recorded during a time when the livelihood of most people involved agriculture, the Bible is full of references to the planting, harvesting and storage of crops. The crowds that followed Jesus from village to village were certainly familiar with the imagery of fruitfulness in his parable called The Sower. They knew a thing or two about cultivation. After all, their ability to grow and harvest a thriving crop each year could mean the difference between starvation and having plenty.
A related theme in the Bible is that of mankind's need for a thriving relationship with its Creator. Without him, nothing--either spiritual or physical--can grow.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener," Jesus tells us through John's Gospel. "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."
Christ then added this caution:
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."
Warm weather is here, and folks are flocking to lawn and garden centers to buy the tools, fertilizers and other supplies to make their gardens thrive. They know that with enough time and effort, the harvest can be both remarkable and satisfying.
The same goes for cultivating our spiritual lives, which also takes time and effort. But unlike a plot of vegetables that eventually withers and dies with the first frosts of autumn, spirit-filled lives rooted in a solid relationship with God will thrive and produce much fruit--and all with eternal benefits.
Are you cultivating a fruitful, personal relationship with your Creator--and are you helping others do the same? Work awaits us in the fields. So as we gather our spiritual gardening tools for the task at hand, let's consider these familiar words of Jesus from Matthew's Gospel:
"The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few."