“What could I have done more in my vineyard? Have I slackened mine hand that I have not nourished it? Nay, I have nourished it, and I have rigged about it, and I have pruned it, and I have dunged it, and I have stretched forth mine hand almost all the day long, and the end draweth nigh. And it grieveth me that I should hew down all the trees of my vineyard, and cast them into the fire that they should be burned. Who is it that has corrupted my vineyard?
And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: Is it not the loftiness of thy vineyard – have not the branches thereof overcome the roots which are good? And because the branches have overcome the roots thereof, behold they grew faster than the strength of the roots, taking strength unto themselves.” (Jacob 5:47-48)
There is a lot that can be learned from these two verses in Zenos’ allegory of the olive tree, but today I wanted to point out two things.
The first is that Heavenly Father (the Lord of the vineyard) and Jesus Christ (the servant of the Lord of the vineyard) love us very much. Sometimes we fall into a pattern of thought that paints God as a passive observer in the world; an idle God who does nothing all day and laughs when we suffer. That is entirely false. The true and living God is a God who weeps when we suffer and rejoices when we do what is right. He is a God that works tirelessly all the day long to prune us and nourish us and shape us and direct our growth. He is an active God who is running a very large vineyard and is employing servants to make sure that everything grows as it should and that none of us are lost. God loves you, God loves me, and we should trust His guidance and seek him daily.
The second lesson that can be learned is how not to become lost and fallen. Here, Christ, the servant of the Lord of the vineyard, explains why the trees became corrupted. He explains that the roots of the trees are good, but the branches grew too fast, took strength unto themselves, and started bringing forth all kinds of wild fruit. All of us are innately good, with the infinite capacity to do incredible things. However, if we try to do too much too soon, or if we forget our roots – the things that are truly important – and start bringing into our lives things that don’t really matter, it is easy for us to get overwhelmed and start making poor decisions. Further, when we fail to seek counsel from the Lord in our decisions and “take strength unto [ourselves],” we become lofty, and we are liable to fall or be cut down.
We would do well to remember God’s love, and to take time today to think about what’s truly important. Don’t run faster than you have strength.