“But 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.”
Disbelieving God is a serious matter. Israel was cut off from the promises of God, and ultimately from eternal life because they did not believe and trust God any longer. They were natural branches receiving nourishment from the vine of God’s tree in which he established from the beginning. Yet God snapped the branches off and tossed them to the ground. He then took unnatural branches that were laying dead on the ground from another type of tree and grafted them in to the place Israel had been. This was done to make the dead branch of Israel look up at the Gentile branch receiving the nourishment in their place and be jealous. God intending that this jealousy would cause them to believe God once again.
Tough love seems to me. Paul tells us the importance of not becoming proud of our current position as Gentiles. If we begin to disbelieve God like the Israelites, think that we somehow deserve to be grafted into the vine, look down and the dead branch and utter, “nanny nanny boo boo;” we will be plucked off just as swiftly as Israel. We are placed into the vine by grace, remain in the vine by grace, and please the vine dresser through faith.
(QUESTIONS FOR THE KIDS)
1. What do you think it means to “believe God?”
2. Why do you think this is important to God?
3. Is it important to you that those around you believe and trust you?
4. What are some ways we can resist the tendencies of becoming proud?