The pain and joy of pruning…
“I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15: 1 – 2)
One gardening job that I am not very good at is pruning, whether it is pruning roses, dead-heading flowers or pinching off healthy shoot tips of plants like tomatoes. I can just about cope with taking away dead or dying bits of a plant, but breaking off apparently healthy shoots seems almost cruel and pointless! However, this type of pruning is essential to increase the productivity of the plant. I can have a large tomato plant with a mass of healthy green leaves but with few tomatoes. By removing the side shoots and pinching off the top of the main stem, the plant’s energies can then be concentrated on fruiting.
Jesus knew this when he talked about the vine in John 15. He is the vine, we are the branches and God is the gardener who cares for the branches to make them fruitful. (v 1 – 2). Caring involves pruning and it’s not only the dead wood (i.e. things that are not helpful to us) that God wants to cut off, but He also cuts back areas of success – perhaps even areas that are bearing good fruit. This is because he desires fruit of increasing quality – both in our character and our ministry, and with the resulting greater fruitfulness, God is glorified and the world will truly know that we are his disciples (v 8).
Our main task is to “remain in the vine” (v 4), which means to keep united, in fellowship with Jesus and to cooperate with God’s pruning in our lives. The sharp pruning knife that the divine gardener uses can come in a number of ways: through a scripture, sermon, prophecy or the wise counsel of a friend or by hearing the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit within. It may also come through a difficult circumstance or test of faith, but the key is not to resist it. It will bring great joy and fruitfulness!
Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us when we resist your pruning and help us to willingly let go of that which you want to prune from us. We acknowledge that you know best about the things that you have called us to do and thank you that you are working to enhance our fruitfulness both in our characters as well as our ministries, so that our lives will continually bring you glory. Amen.