“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.
“Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” Romans 11:17-25,29
It is man’s flesh tendency to want to earn favor with God, and therefore take credit for it. Where I was born, how I was raised, the quality of my faith, all I do. We are either proud of our spiritual credentials, or we try to clean up, work up, and show up others so we stand out or shoulder our way ahead. We want to be a favorite. Even when we know there is nothing we must contribute to our salvation, it seems we slip into thinking we did or can contribute. There is much folly in forgetting who our vinedresser is.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser… I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1,5
There is no room for cocky in a heart that recognizes we are nothing without Christ. We are either broken branches, as were the Jews, temporarily set aside (cut off), or wild, contrary shoots, alien Gentiles who would die apart from the Vinedresser’s merciful hands grafting us in. All kindness and credit belongs to Jesus, the Root from which we draw life. We are wobbly, helpless, fruitless, without Him. All salvation is a mercy to those saved, and in humble faith and gratitude, there is no gloating. (Isaiah 11:1)
How might it change our sense of self-importance, and our attitude toward others, if we daily remembered who we were, and whose we are? That our only spiritual lifeline is Christ? With fresh, sober assessment of what is true about us all, how will we live out God’s grace in our world? (Romans 12:1-3)
Lord, keep me in awe at Your wondrous salvation. From You and through You and to You are all things. To You be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)