“What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it?”
When I was young, I attended the wedding of an extended family member. I don’t remember much about the ceremony, dancing or food. But I do remember the terrible fight at the reception. In front of all the guests, a woman screamed at her husband, broke down in tears and hid in a corner while her friends consoled her. The man yelled back, threatened to hit her, then stormed out of the building with his friends. He did not return that night.
It might shock you to learn that I’m describing the bride and groom. But it probably will not surprise you to learn that their marriage lasted less than a month.
In Isaiah 5, God addressed the people of Israel and described himself as the owner of a vineyard and Israel as the vineyard. He had chosen a prime location for his grapevines, nurtured the soil and protected the land from harm. But in the end, the crop of grapes was no good. So he asked, “What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it?”
The farmer had done everything right; there was no reason why the crop should not have flourished. But the painful message soon became clear: Israel had failed despite God’s efforts to ensure her success. Though the people kept up elaborate rituals of worship, those were meaningless to God because the people neglected to do what he truly valued: caring for orphans, widows and the poor. As a result, they managed to spoil the harvest that God had nurtured.
God offers this same nurturing care today for your marriage. Even before you met your spouse, God was preparing the soil, removing the stones and building a watchtower. God placed you in a cultivated land, ready to produce good fruit. But in this vineyard, the Farmer doesn’t do all the work; you must also do your part.
More and more Christian couples today are producing bad marital fruit, spoiling their relationship despite God the Farmer’s efforts. Some couples, like the couple mentioned earlier, manage to kill their vine before it even takes hold.
In the end, a marriage will be judged not by the strength of its passion or by its ceremonial promises, but by the fruit it produces. The Farmer is there to weed, water and cultivate. But we must also take practical steps that will help our marriage reflect authentic devotion to each other and a true love for God and his values.
We can choose to forgive quickly and resist resentment. We can serve each other in purposeful ways throughout the day. We can encourage each other with words of love and by praying for each other. We can invite strong Christian couples to mentor us in spiritual growth. We can minister to others in need. By authentically reflecting God’s values in our relationship, we can do our part to nourish our marriage vineyard and produce a harvest of good fruit.