Romans – “Therefore”
I love roses. I love growing roses. For a few years, Randy would give me a rose bush for Valentine’s Day to begin my collection of roses in our yard. Then the real work began. Roses are particular and picky about their soil. It needs to be just right or they do not grow. They do not like to be sprayed with water either. You need to water them at the root base. Bugs love roses, too. So special sprays have to be used to keep the bugs form eating the green off the leaves as well as the new buds that form the beautiful flowering rose. If you do not prune roses often, the bush or climber rose will grow gangly and wild and not produce the roses you desire.
It is hard to prune, especially when there are promising buds on the vine, but prune you must because you know that those buds will not produce well unless you do. You must prune back the deadwood, too. Not only is the deadwood unattractive but it needs to be removed to make room for new growth…new vines connected to the root to produce a greater yield of beautiful roses. The whole purpose behind planting, growing, feeding, watering, protecting and pruning is for enjoying the beauty of the rose.
It all makes sense to me for Paul to use the olive vine and root to describe how outsiders (non-Jews) were grafted in and cared for by God. We are the vine. God is the life giving root. “Remember, (says Paul), you aren’t feeding the root; the root is feeding you.” “Don’t get cocky and strut your branch.”
“Be humbly mindful of the root that keeps you lithe and green.”
Read the whole story. This is Part two of three. Part three is a glimpse of God’s bigger picture for a homecoming of outsiders and insiders. God isn’t finished yet! More tomorrow!
Romans 11, The Message
Pruning and Grafting Branches
11-12 The next question is, “Are they down for the count? Are they out of this for good?” And the answer is a clear-cut No. Ironically when they walked out, they left the door open and the outsiders walked in. But the next thing you know, the Jews were starting to wonder if perhaps they had walked out on a good thing. Now, if their leaving triggered this worldwide coming of non-Jewish outsiders to God’s kingdom, just imagine the effect of their coming back! What a homecoming!
13-15 But I don’t want to go on about them. It’s you, the outsiders, that I’m concerned with now. Because my personal assignment is focused on the so-called outsiders, I make as much of this as I can when I’m among my Israelite kin, the so-called insiders, hoping they’ll realize what they’re missing and want to get in on what God is doing. If their falling out initiated this worldwide coming together, their recovery is going to set off something even better: mass homecoming! If the first thing the Jews did, even though it was wrong for them, turned out for your good, just think what’s going to happen when they get it right!
16-18 Behind and underneath all this there is a holy, God-planted, God-tended root. If the primary root of the tree is holy, there’s bound to be some holy fruit. Some of the tree’s branches were pruned and you wild olive shoots were grafted in. Yet the fact that you are now fed by that rich and holy root gives you no cause to crow over the pruned branches. Remember, you aren’t feeding the root; the root is feeding you.
19-20 It’s certainly possible to say, “Other branches were pruned so that I could be grafted in!” Well and good. But they were pruned because they were deadwood, no longer connected by belief and commitment to the root. The only reason you’re on the tree is because your graft “took” when you believed, and because you’re connected to that belief-nurturing root. So don’t get cocky and strut your branch. Be humbly mindful of the root that keeps you lithe and green.
21-22 If God didn’t think twice about taking pruning shears to the natural branches, why would he hesitate over you? He wouldn’t give it a second thought. Make sure you stay alert to these qualities of gentle kindness and ruthless severity that exist side by side in God—ruthless with the deadwood, gentle with the grafted shoot. But don’t presume on this gentleness. The moment you become deadwood, you’re out of there.
23-24 And don’t get to feeling superior to those pruned branches down on the ground. If they don’t persist in remaining deadwood, they could very well get grafted back in. God can do that. He can perform miracle grafts. Why, if he could graft you—branches cut from a tree out in the wild—into an orchard tree, he certainly isn’t going to have any trouble grafting branches back into the tree they grew from in the first place. Just be glad you’re in the tree, and hope for the best for the others.
What do we learn?
–God is the root that feeds us. We do not feed Him.
–Be humbly grateful for being grafted into His Kingdom.
–Rejoice and be glad you are in the tree of life and hope for the best for others!
–God performs “miracle grafts”. God can do anything. Nothing is impossible with God.
–Let the beauty of God’s work be see in us.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I am one who is grafted into Your life-giving root. I am grateful and humbled by the thought. Thank you for opening the door to outsiders when the insiders rejected you. You make all things good and beautiful from the bad this world dishes out. You are God and we are not. Continue to prune and and graft as You see necessary. Transform me. Transform our world.
In Jesus Name, Amen