The vine is a climbing or creeping plant. Vines need to cling on to something sturdy to grow. Vines cannot grow by themselves. They also need to be pruned regularly to flourish.
Jesus is the true vine and we are meant to be the branches that grow from the vine. God is the husbandman who cultivates the vine by taking away branches that do not bear fruit and pruning or purging the branches that do bear even just a little fruit so that it can bear more fruit.
To purge (katha?r?) is to clean up, that is to remove the undesirable parts that prevent the branches from thriving. We are purged not only through the word of God but we are also purged when God chastises us. God reveals our sins to us so that we may repent and be purified. This is the slow and delicate process of sanctification by the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
As vines of the church we are to abide by Jesus and yield to God's cultivation so that we may bear the 12 fruits. These are fruits of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, righteousness, truth and holiness.
Now, the average tree grows to about 150 feet tall. One only needs to plant a seed to grow a tree. A tree grows by itself. It does not need to cling to anything to grow and it doesn't need pruning or trimming.
The mustard plant is actually more of a shrub or bush than a tree. It grows only about 6-20 feet, hardly like a tree at all. Jesus tells us that when a mustard seed grows too big, it becomes a tree and when that happens, those who don't sow, reap or gather will sit at the branches.
When the church is likened to a mustard tree, it means it grows on its own without needing to abide by Jesus, without receiving any direction or correction from God. It can grow bigger than it's meant to grow and there will be many in the church that will just sit at the branches and not bear any fruit. Such trees are cast into the fire.
Do you cling on to Jesus to grow or are you doing as you please and not as He would? Do you abide by His word, His ways and His righteousness or are going by your way of righteousness without knowing His word? Does He abide in you? Do you bear fruits by the Spirit or are you doing many works of the flesh instead? Are you being pruned and purged by God or are you hearing nothing from Him? Are you a vine or a tree? Jesus is the vine; are you branching from Him or are you sitting in the tree?
John 15:1-10, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."
Hebrew 12:6, "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."
2 Timothy 2:25, "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;"
John 16:8, "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:"
Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."
Ephesians 5:9, "(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)"
Romans 6:22, "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life."
Matthew 13: 31-32, "Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."
Matthew 6:26, "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?"