<<trim, cut back>>
The Bible gives the illustration of God the Father being the gardener, Jesus as the vine and Christians as the branches that are designed to produce the fruit. “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:1-8,16). The sole purpose of a vine is to produce fruit. Pruning removes the excess foliage and growth that is not fruit producing. In a similar way God asks us to remove from our lives what hinders the production of fruit. It is a positive exercise, understanding whatever doesn’t lead to Jesus or interferes with fruitfulness cannot remain in our lives if we choose to remain in Christ. Choose to stay connected to the Life source, and be evermore dependent on Him for “without Him we can do nothing” that is truly and spiritually good and acceptable in the sight of God.
What is non-productive must go
unproductive distractions and influences removed so we remain focused on our core calling and remain in the centre of His will. “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (Jn 2:17). At times even good things may need to be removed or trimmed back to make room for better things. Even legitimate things are not always beneficial to our spiritual life (especially if they are taken to excess), so we are commanded not to love the world or the things in the world (1 Cor 6:12, 10:23; 1 Jn 2:15-17). Martha was so busy doing the peripheral things she missed out on the all-important (Lk 10:39-42). Maybe you need to withdraw from ungodly friends if they are drawing you away from, and hindering your devotion to Christ (Ps 1:1,2; 1 Cor 15:33). Do I need to prioritize my obligations? Pruning frees us up to fulfill His purposes, eliminating unproductive growth (the baggage of life) that does not result in fruit. We are instructed to “Lay aside every weight, and the sin which easily ensnares” (Heb 12:1,2). We can self-prune through self-discipline in areas we see are getting ‘out of hand’ with unproductive activities that detract from fruit bearing, so we can focus on the essentials. At other times the Lord lovingly steps in and removes from our lives what is unbeneficial – a grape vine if left unattended will spread profusely instead of putting its energy and resources into the grapes. This calls for acceptance, surrender and consecration on our part. When God looks for something there is no bargaining table, only an altar.
The trials and testing we experience may be His means of bringing to our attention and dealing with an area of the re-sprouting flesh, which if left un-pruned, would drain the spiritual life out of us. Our effectiveness will then be lost and no ‘eternal fruit’ will grow. We should examine our hearts – is the Lord convicting me of a sin or is my conscience clear? This will determine how we respond to this adversity.
The aim of pruning is fruitfulness
submission required of us. Discipline meanwhile is correction; dealing with sin we have done because of disobedience. Repentance for the past sin and ongoing obedience is what is required. Do not despise the Lord’s discipline because it shows His love (Job 5:17; Ps 94:12; Heb 12:6-13). While pruning and discipline are painful, both are motivated by His amazing love and desire that we come into the “fullness” of a greater experience of Him.