Prioritizing Like Jesus: John 15:1-17

Focus Passage: John 15:1-17 (NIrV)

“I am the true vine. My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch joined to me that does not bear fruit. He trims every branch that does bear fruit. Then it will bear even more fruit.

“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain joined to me, and I will remain joined to you. No branch can bear fruit by itself. It must remain joined to the vine. In the same way, you can’t bear fruit unless you remain joined to me.

“I am the vine. You are the branches. If anyone remains joined to me, and I to him, he will bear a lot of fruit. You can’t do anything without me. If anyone does not remain joined to me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and dries up. Branches like those are picked up. They are thrown into the fire and burned.

“If you remain joined to me and my words remain in you, ask for anything you wish. And it will be given to you.When you bear a lot of fruit, it brings glory to my Father. It shows that you are my disciples.

“Just as the Father has loved me, I have loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love. In the same way, I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy will be in you. I also want your joy to be complete.

12 “Here is my command. Love each other, just as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than the one who gives his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

15 “I do not call you servants anymore. Servants do not know their master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends. I have told you everything I learned from my Father.

16 “You did not choose me. Instead, I chose you. I appointed you to go and bear fruit. It is fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you anything you ask for in my name.

17 “Here is my command. Love each other.

Read John 15:1-17 in context and/or in other translations on!

Has God ever challenged you with a difficult person?

Or has God ever brought someone into your life who pushed you to grow – regardless of whether you wanted that growth or not?

If there is ever a passage that challenges us regarding our attitude and priorities about other people, it is this one. Many people really like this passage applied to others, but when we really dig in to apply this to ourselves, we run into some very challenging implications.

The part of this passage where this comes to Jesus’ big point is in verses 12 and 13: “Here is my command. Love each other, just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than the one who gives his life for his friends.

We love these verses when others apply Jesus’ teaching because it feels nice to receive excellent service and to receive gifts. However, when applying the verses to us, things get significantly harder.

The standard that Jesus gives, and the one He set is placing your friends’ lives ahead of your own life. There is no getting around this simple truth. Jesus set our lives ahead of His own life by dying a death that He did not deserve – for people (us) who did not deserve it. And He calls us to do the same if we wish to remain in His love. (v. 10)

This is very counter cultural to even today’s Christian world. The Christian self-help movement likes to make us think that our priorities should be God first, then ourselves, then others. After all, isn’t this way healthier and less likely to cause burnout?

Perhaps, but what often happens in the God-myself-then-others priority structure is that others get the leftovers, and over time, we turn inward and our backs face those who need our help.

The flipside is also damaging. Jesus never modeled a life where He didn’t take time alone to recharge. Praying alone all night, sneaking away from the crowds, and sending the crowds away were all part of His balancing act. The danger to the God-others-then-myself priority structure is that we lose our identity and our connection with God because others will have a tendency to push God to the side.

This passage does not teach an others-first or even a self-first mindset. Instead, it teaches a God-first perspective. The time we spend with God is the most valuable time we can spend. [Period]

Time spent with God is restorative to our health, it recharges our identity, and it reprioritizes our focus onto the things that God wants us to focus on. By spending time with God, He will direct us to His ministry for us – a cause that we can dedicate our lives to that helps others. What is left afterwards is self, and in reality, the more time we spend with God, the less important our “self” time will be. Our time spent with God is restorative and it should be our focus.

Jesus modeled a God-first, Others-second attitude. Self wasn’t even in His equation. If Jesus placed others first, as His followers, we should too!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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