2011-03-17 - Grafted In Favor
Originally Published 2003-11-11
Rom 11:19-23 You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." 20 Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. 22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again. (NAS)
Paul is speaking to Christians who had become boastful of their position. Paul firmly corrects them where their logic had gone astray.
The branches that were broken off represented the unfaithful Jews. Real fruit trees are cleared of dead branches or branches that do not produce fruit. The buds are carefully grafted into the trunk of the fruit tree. The graft is wrapped and checked periodically. Within a week to ten days it will be very clear if the bud has taken or not. In their conceit these Christians had mistaken God's mercy to them as favor over those removed branches. The branches had been removed because of their unbelief, not to make room for Christians. And certainly not all of the branches had been removed. The Christians were considered wild buds grafted in to the Olive tree of God's favor.
"Do not be conceited, but fear;" This is not terror or abject fear, but watchfulness and humility. God has indeed shown us favor beyond our ability to calculate. But we have done absolutely nothing to contribute to this favor. It is completely unmerited on our part, so we have no reason at all to boast. We should be on our guard against any high-minded thoughts that say we are deserving of this grace shown to us. To fall from God's favor would be to be put aside. He will still hear us, especially that prayer of contrition asking forgiveness. He stands ready to restore His favor. But we must ask and be willing to follow Him.
The Jewish people will eventually see that Jesus is their Messiah. Some, by the grace and mercy of God, have had their eyes opened already with the very same revelation that was given to each one who is a believer. We can not save ourselves and we are incapable of reaching Heaven in our own strength. The fact is that we have sinned and fallen short of the mark of perfection which is the requirement for entry in to Heaven. In His grace and mercy Jesus came to die for our sins and be raised to defeat death and Hell. He has given us His perfect life in exchange for our own tattered, ruined lives.
The branches draw their life from the root and the tree, not the other way around. We are completely dependent on God for our daily needs. We are indeed dependent on Him for our next breath and heartbeat. He is long-suffering. May mistake this long-suffering nature for approval. Again we come back to the heart of humility that understands the mercy and grace of God are gifts given, not earned.
Grace & Peace,