“I will prune it, and dig about it, and nourish it, that perhaps it may shoot forth young and tender branches, and it perish not” (Jacob 5:4). The master of the vineyard spoke these words in the beginning of the allegory of the tame and wild olive trees. Verse 6, “After many days it began to put forth somewhat a little, young and tender branches; but behold, the main top thereof began to perish.” The master, recognizing the danger of this tree but still seeing the potential in it, takes the young and tender branches and grafts them in with another olive tree.
Consider the approach the master of the vineyard takes, “saith the Lord of the vineyard, I take many of these young and tender branches, and I will graft them whithersoever I will; and it mattereth not that if it so be that the root of this tree will perish, I may preserve the fruit thereof;” (verse 8). Here the Lord is saying that it does not matter to him if the root perishes, as long as he can preserve the fruit. Why would the Lord not care about the root, the very structure of the tree? Let me offer my interpretation and thoughts.
If we are like unto this olive tree, then I believe our “young and tender branches” to be all the good things we’ve done on earth. Every act of service, every time we’ve brightened someone’s day, and every time we’ve done what the Lord has asked of us, we sprout and nourish these good branches. These branches show our potential and goodness, hence why the Lord of the vineyard was so focused on preserving these things. When it comes to judgement, the Lord looketh upon the heart (good branches) and He’ll say, “These deeds shall thy memorial be. Fear not, thou didst them unto me” (A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief). He’ll want to preserve us in His eternal kingdom.
Still, isn’t the root of the tree important? If fruit can’t grow without it, how could the Master let it perish? I would suggest that our mortal view of the root and God’s eternal view of the root are different. When we think about the root, and it perishing, we think about ourselves. The things that we do everyday. Maybe the root is our carnal selves, the natural man within us that wants and pursues worldly things. Though this is natural and damnable, the Lord offers us a way of salvation. We must give up our own root in the world and be willing to let His love take root in our hearts. His Way of Life and Will is a root we can trust in to ensure that our young and tender branches are cared for. Verse 18, “the root thereof hath brought forth much strength; and because of the root thereof the branches have brought forth fruit.”
Sometimes, the things that we think matter do not matter so much in the eternal perspective of the Lord. The good news is that He focuses on the good branches we have. If we allow His gospel to be our roots, then He will do all he can for the welfare of our souls. He’ll put (graft) us among other trees, and allow us to grow together and better each other. Overall, trust in the little, young and tender branches you have, even if it seems as if the main top is beginning to perish. Realize your potential as He does and give God time to work… He’s not done with you yet.