Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Romans‬ ‭11‬:‭17‬-‭21.

But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root. “Well,” you may say, “those branches were broken off to make room for me.” Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t spare you either.

Some of Paul’s lessons require a little digging to help us fully understand the point he is making. His example may have been clear to a mostly agrarian society in his time, but most of us know little about grafting branches today. This story tells us of the Gentiles (non-Jews) being added to the family of God. Obviously, we have all been part of God’s family from the beginning, but God wants both Jews and Gentiles to know this fact.

Paul speaks of non-believers as branches broken off the tree because they were not fruitful, and believers as other branches being attached to be more fruitful. This is mentioned elsewhere in scripture, such as Isaiah 60:21 which says “God’s people will be a branch that He plants”. As the trunk and root nourish the entire plant, so God wants to support and nourish us in our faith.

Paul warns against being prideful because other branches have been broken off for us to take their place, saying “if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t spare you either” (v. 21). We must remain faithful and fruitful or we risk being replaced as well. God loves all His children and offers them a chance to grow in faith, but we must make the choice to accept His love and forgiveness, becoming part of the branch He has planted.

Loving Lord, help us to see we are all part of the growth of Your kingdom. Bless us to produce fruit worthy of repentance and to share the joy of salvation with everyone. Amen.

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