The elders of the church have their work cut out for them. Just as a garden needs constant attention lest it become overrun with weeds, so the church needs constant attention to uproot weeds of error and contaminants of immorality.
My Father is the vinedresser.
(John 15:1, NKJV)
Every year I brace myself for the back aching work of trimming my hedges. I pull out my electric trimmers, loppers, and snips and get to work. I am the one who does the work but I do it through those tools.
Jesus tells us that He is the true vine and His Father is the vinedresser. As the vinedresser the Father not only plants the vine in the giving of His Son, He tends the vine. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2).
How does God do His taking away and pruning? Ultimately, the answer is through the Holy Spirit. Our Lord lays out the metaphor of the vine and branches (John 15:1-17) right in the midst of teaching about the work of the Spirit (John 14:15-17, 25-26; 15:26-27; 16:5-15). The Spirit indwells, empowers, leads, helps, convicts, and, above all, unites us to Christ. The risen and ascended Christ dwells with us and within us by the Spirit (John 14:18; 16:7).
Yet the Spirit purposes to use the other branches and particularly those set apart by Him as caretakers of the vine. In addressing the elders of the church at Ephesus Paul says: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). The Spirit gifts, calls, and puts in place instruments by which He tends the vine. Timothy, as a young pastor, was urged by Paul to be useful to the Master, prepared for every good work (2 Tim. 2:21).