Because our usual Christmas tree farm was closing, we all went to another Tree farm in the Hagerstown area where my son and his family live. He came with us looking for a smaller tree for his home, while we were looking for a humongous tree to justify our cathedral ceilings. We happened on this farm and were directed to where the “big trees” were. We trudged up and down the snowy aisles of trees and were dismayed to see that every single tree was bound with vines. These vines caused the trees to have dead branches and grow awkwardly. After an hour of walking around, it was evident that we were not going to find our tree there. We wondered how the owners could have allowed these trees to become so overrun by vines.We reasoned that the younger trees were probably better cared for, so off we trudged to the other side of the farm to help my son look, only to be disappointed that these trees were also wrapped with vines and disfigured. Even the baby trees were weighed down to the earth and entangled. As we were leaving without a tree, I commented to the owners “You know… all your trees have vines growing over them”. One man responded “Oh yeah, I know. We’ll cut them off for you when you bring it up here”. Then I added “But the vines are killing your trees!” I thought that might make an impact, since the trees are not much use if they are sickly and dying. I never gave it another thought until the Lord impressed upon me this morning how we can be like those trees.
When we have earthly vines weaved into the ever-green life we have in Christ, these vines bind us and eventually weigh us down. It is sometimes difficult to discern what these worldly entanglements are, since we are well accustomed to them, having been born into their lecherous grip. I believe the Lord would have us realize that these vines are asphyxiating the spiritual life out of us. We are warned by the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any… All things are lawful for me…not all things edify….(1Cor.6:12/10:23)See then that you walk circumspectly…(Eph.5:15). If we do not, the world has a way of attaching to us like one of those vines, hindering our growth and fellowship with our Father. Clearly there is much of the world infiltrating the church, but do we recognize whether we ourselves have worldly vines wrapping around us? The truth is, when we are born again, we are born into spiritual warfare. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life. (2 Tim. 2:4) The victory we have in Christ is dependent upon our separation from the world. Whatever thing of this world that exerts any power over us is a worldly vine.
Do we indulge ourselves or deny ourselves? Do we yield to cravings or fast from them? The quickest way to determine if one is enslaved to something is to try to walk away from it.
Deborah J Claypool