“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.” Romans 11:17-24
‘Remember who you were, and from where you came,’ Paul reminds the Gentiles, lest they forget their inclusion in Christ is all of Him, and grow pompous. Their ingrafting, their spiritual nourishment, and their identity in the Vine leave no room for pride, and room only for reverent fear and gratitude.
Once we are in Christ, it’s not healthy to dwell on our past, or detail former sins in a way that makes much of or exaggerates them. As new creatures, we are to live fully immersed in the new life Jesus grants. But any time we inch toward smug self-righteousness, or any inkling of desert of God’s favor, we must remember we were wild shoots, grafted into Christ by grace alone, through God-given faith alone. We own no superiority over those who do not believe, and are His through no personal effort. Remembering our wildness, our foreignness, our not-belonging, always magnifies God’s incredible grace and glory in salvation. (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:8-9)
Though we were formerly wild rebels and enemies, the Spirit has regenerated our souls and ingrafted us to Christ the Vine. He infuses living sap into our veins and calls us presently to bear fruit, much and lasting fruit. As we abide in Him, our fruit adorns the Vine and His renown. It feeds hungry souls looking for significance and hope in this dark world. It displays the wonders of His mercies toward His children. It furthers and spreads wide His love and kindness. (John 15:4-8,16; Romans 5:8-10; Ephesians 2:1-6)
When and how did I last recount God’s sternness and kindness and overwhelming grace to me? Do I make daily choices according to my former wild nature, or dependent on God’s cultivation of my new nature? Where am I bearing spiritual fruit to bring attention to His power and love?
Father, ever tame and purify my heart. Let me never forget, and always marvel at, Your awesome grace to me. May I cling to You, my Vine, and bear the bountiful fruit of grace toward others so You receive the glory forever. (Romans 11:36)