I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. – John 15 1:16
As Christians, we are constantly learning. We know that we must push forward, that we die daily to self and seek to be renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit in us. There is something we should remember about those who are given a strong diligence in seeking this renewal – who they are today is not who they once were. There are parts of them that are being purged – and these parts of them no longer exist.
In understanding this, we should also understand the importance of forgiveness. An example:
Imagine a new branch that’s been grafted into the grape vine of Jesus. This branch has a strong love and zeal for the things of God. But, before they were grafted in, this branch did some bad things – things that hurt people – even others who are also grafted into the vine of the Lord.
Now, the Husbandman (God), was merciful and forgave them of those sins – then went even further and purged them from that sin. But, the other members of that vine hold onto things like unforgiveness and fear, and begin to stigmatize the new branch as always being what it once was.
The unforgiving branch becomes a dark shadow, smothering the new branch – discouraging it by constantly questioning everything they do, jumping to hateful conclusions based on fear, and stigmatizing them. Instead of seeing that this new branch is not what it used to be, they belittle it with a self-righteous hypocrisy that stifles the growth of this new branch.
What do you suppose will happen to this unforgiving branch?
For one, what are the fruits we must bring forth?
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control.
What fruit does unforgiveness bring forth?
Hate, Bitterness, Strife, Impatience, Rudeness, Hypocracy, Carelessness, Harshness, and Rash conclusions/actions
Unforgiving branches stifle those who believe in Christ. Those who seek His healing and are growing – bringing forth fruit with patience as the Lord purges them of sin.
I tell you, it would be better that a mill stone be hung around our necks and we were cast into the sea than for us to cause one of these little, budding Christians to stumble with our unforgiveness.
Unforgiving branches get cut off.
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. – Matthew 6:15
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. – Galatians 6:1
We have to forgive, and when we consider how merciful and forgiving the Lord is with us, how could we be any different?
I understand how hard it can be to forgive. When someone hurts us, we put up barriers – barriers that become like a thick briar patch that stifles those we love. We question their motives, we jump to hasty conclusions and tend to see the worst in everything they do. Real forgiveness means letting go of all these things. It means understanding that we are new creatures in Christ – that the person we hold things against might not even exist any more – and even if they continue with the same struggles, it is only the mercy of the Lord that we are not similarly tempted – and that can change if we are not merciful.
How do we let go? How do we truly forgive?
I don’t think it is in our self-preserving human nature to be truly forgiving. We might say we forgive, but our fruit towards the transgressor shows otherwise.
Our transformation from a sinful nature to a holy nature can only come when we abide in Christ, and He in us by the Holy Spirit. The process of growing and bringing forth fruit is an act of mercy towards us by God. It is a work He does in us by His power, not our own. He can also heal us from unforgiveness and forgive us for it. But, we have to seek Jesus in this. We have to recognize the unforgivness and the bad fruits it grows. We submit it to the Lord, and he will purge our vine so that we can all grow in Christ together and support one another in forgiveness and love.