I’m not good with green and growing things. I’m not a gardener by nature. But I understand pruning. And I think that we need to understand it as well, because I keep hearing misinterpretations of what pruning must be like.
The scripture is here:
John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.
Some very clear points:
First, God is interested in fruit. God prunes so that we can bear fruit; it is not God’s desire to harm us but to benefit us.
Second, what is pruned away is what does not bear fruit. It is burned.
Third, what is pruned is not what we want to keep. It’s what we don’t need. It holds us back. It prevents us from achieving what we hope and dream and work to achieve.
As I began to think about it, I realized that pruning in my life would be like going to sleep and waking up the next day less 100 pounds of fat. My doctor might like me to lose more, but there it is. If I do it the human way, that means months of years of dieting and months or years of exercise. But if God prunes it from me, then it’s not by works but by grace. God does the heavy lifting, and I can let go and surrender to God.
What isn’t fruitful isn’t going to last anyway. It’s wasted. It’s going to be gathered up as dried up, withered branches and be burned. We might as well let God have it, let God prune it, let God take it away from us. Why would we want to hang on to it? Let go of what needs to be pruned and surrender to God’s cleansing.
1 John 1:8 has a grim warning: If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. We all need some pruning!
1 John 1:9 has a beautiful promise: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I’m sure that you have prayed for forgiveness. But have you prayed for cleansing? Have you prayed for pruning?
Have you prayed that God would simply wash from you mind, from your emotions, from your behavior, from your habits, from your finances, from your relationships, anything that is unrighteous – anything that is not right? HE is faithful and just … and he can do what we cannot in our own lives and with our own strength.
So when you are troubled and feel overwhelmed, that life is out of control and your energy is draining away … pray for cleansing. Pray for pruning. Let God work, so that you can be more fruitful.
The photo “Pruning” is by Peter Prehn via the Flickr.com Creative Commons License.
All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.