“. . . every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
No one likes to be cut back or reduced.
I know I certainly don’t, but it’s an elementary principle of the Christian life that pruning is vital to growing in Christ and bearing fruit for His kingdom. And it’s a painful process that we’ll experience many times.
There’s just no way around it.
But recently I came upon another shade of the meaning of the word, “prune,” that has provided me with a fresh view: The Greek word used in this passage also means “cleans.”
“. . . every branch that does bear fruit he [cleans] so that it will be even more fruitful.”
God doesn’t just cut away dead wood and nip wild shoots and suckers off our “branch,” He “cleans” it.
And He possesses an arsenal of customized cleaners, formulated for the needs of each branch. Some of His cleaning agents bear the label: “Illness” and “Inactivity.” Others, “Sorrow” and “Struggle.” But every type of cleanser God applies works to break down ambition, to wipe away pride and self confidence, to scrub our hearts clean from disease harboring spores, and to seal it against future infection.
For God is as thorough in the cleaning process as He is precise in the pruning cut.
And God prunes each branch specifically to keep it growing close to the life-giving Vine. As a result, the bud borne in the hallow of the Vine speaks promise into our heart of a harvest to come:
“I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit . . . ” (Emphasis mine)
Oh, how this passage speaks, and speaks, and speaks to me!
And it resonates with me today, as God . . .
. . . prunes the fruitful branch that was
. . . cleans the feeble branch that is
. . . and prepares the branch that will be . . .
. . . that we may rejoice in the hope of a future harvest of fruit for His kingdom!
What about you? What “cleansing” process has God used to make you more fruitful?
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I used to have a lot of rose bushes. I was scared the first time someone showed me how to prune them back. But then, I took the utmost care in pruning and looking at exactly where the pruning needed to take place and how much needed to be taken off. The result was always amazing. I know that’s what God does as He takes care in where and how much to prune me. I love the comment “to seal it against further infection”. I had not thought of that before and wonder if I let Him do that or if I rip off the “seal” sometimes in still wanting my own way in a situation. I pray He continues to prun…even though it’s not “fun”, it surely is worthwhile as I let HIm have His way in me.
I, too, think I “rip off the seal” in order to have my own way–ouch!
Always look forward to your writing–enjoy them all and this, to-date, is my fav! For me, a cancer diagnosis in 2009, followed by two surgeries and radiation treatment helped prune, cleanse and get my attention back on the Creator–not the created things. Even after those events the big pruning item now is dealing with my career choices. My livelihood is important in this world, but compared to the name of Jesus my name, reputation, title, net worth and possessions are nothing. My resume, just like my possessions, will not last an eternity. Money, cars, homes all add up to nothing relative to eternity. I am nothing without Christ. The accuser uses “pride” to attack me most often. Pride fuels the “old man.” I pray, every day, “Lord, I am nothing…have Your way, not mine. Humble me, do whatever it takes to do Your will” I have found it is difficult to pray for God to give me heavy crosses, but as you point out, that’s what it takes most of the time. It hurts, but God knows best! I appreciate praying for me–God Bless, luke
Praise God that He blessed you through this post. 🙂 Another thought that occurred to me (a gardener) about the pruning process is that pruning not only determines the quality of the fruit, it dictates the final form of the product. So I place myself, my family, and the writing ministry entrusted to me in God’s competent, sovereign hand and I’m finding rest there. And no, pruning is not fun–at all!–but oh, the harvest . . . I’m excited for the future; whatever it may look like!
Thanks Bethany, God has truly blessed you with an amazing, Spirit-led and inspired ministry of writing. All of your readers are truly blessed to take part in the sharing of your faith. God speaks so eloquently through your messages of hope. I am very thankful to have the opportunity to read your words of inspiration and truth. God Bless, luke
To God be the glory … forever and ever, amen. 🙂