Monday, 31 December 2012

Apart From Me (You) Can Do Nothing

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”—John 15:5

It seems as though I am consistently bumping up against Bible verses that are most convicting.  If someone asked me if I thought that I was remaining in the Lord, I would answer with little hesitation (and in all humility) “of course “.  If the same person asked me a second time, “Are you remaining in the Lord?”  I would begin to get suspicious.  This is beginning to sound like the challenge the Lord offered to Peter three times, i.e. “do you love me?”

Before I answer a second time I need to consider two important phrases in this verse.  Am I bearing much fruit, with the emphasis on much?  Oooouch!  Okay how about some fruit or an occasional piece of fruit? 

Feeling less confident I consider the back part of this verse, “apart from me you can do nothing”.  Intellectually I know that I can do nothing worthwhile or good without the Lord’s direct intervention.  But let me tell you I can do a lot that is bad without the Lord’s help, thank you very much.

I recognize that when I get upset when something minor goes wrong I am incapable, or at least it would seem so, of responding calmly.  I can fret about not having enough for retirement but to no avail.  I can become impatient with things that don’t work right and with people who obviously don’t share my values.  I can be judgmental and critical when someone is not playing the game of life according to my rules.  As for self control, it kind of comes and goes.  Then I’m reminded of the verses that say “consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds” and “do not be anxious about anything”.  Apart from God I can’t respond to trials of many kinds in a way that would bring glory to him.

In the context of marriage there might be trials of many kinds and there might be times when your anxiety level is high.  These are times when you must turn to God and acknowledge your need for Him.  As husbands and wives we are to glorify Him but apart from Him you will be unable.  I must continually remind myself when faced with something that does not bring out the best in me that God just might be using this event as a teachable moment.  He may want me to learn something about my heart or just to reinforce my need for Him.  In either case I am dependent on Him.


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