John 15:1-5 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that 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. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Over the last several weeks, Rose and I have cut back and trimmed all kinds of flowers, trees, and shrubs. I have thrown away dozens of buckets full of trimmings. I have to admit I felt a little guilty because there was nothing wrong with what we trimmed; they were just getting out of control. However, now the entire yard looks better and the plants are flourishing. I’m not much of a gardener and never understood the whole idea behind pruning, so I did a little research and found 5 reasons for its use. It’s also fascinating to see the correlation between those uses and why God chose that concept in John 15 to describe His work in the believer’s life.
- The first reason for pruning is that it provides shock treatment from transplanting.
When Christ saves us we are transplanted from a life of sin and eternal death to a new life and the promise of an eternal home in heaven. When this happens God will do a little pruning to aid in the transition and get us used to a different lifestyle. Whenever God performs a heart transplant there will always be some pruning to follow.
- The second reason for pruning is that is controls shape and beauty.
If you have been to Disneyland, you will see beautiful shrubs that look like Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters. They didn’t just grow that way; someone pruned them into that shape and likeness. In the same way, Christians are not going to naturally grow spiritually to be like Christ. But God is continually working in our lives and pruning us to shape us more into His Son’s likeness.
- The third reason for pruning is to improve the quantity and quality of the fruit.
The rose bushes we pruned are more beautiful than ever. John 15:2 makes it clear than God’s intent on pruning is not to punish but His purpose is that we might be “even more fruitful”.
- The fourth reason for pruning is to allow light to reach all the parts.
Ephesians 5:8-10 states that as believers we are light in the Lord and we should live as children of light. The verses go on to tell us what the fruit of that light should be. Some pruning may be needed in order for the Holy Spirit to penetrate and fill all parts of our heart and soul with the light of Christ that we might bear the fruit of that light.
- The fifth reason for pruning is that it is required more of the mature plants.
New Christians are usually excited, enthusiastic, inviting people to church, praying, reading their Bible and fruit is evident in their lives. But sometimes the old, mature Christians have fallen away from their “first love” and need some heavy pruning to stimulate that growth and fruit bearing again.
I have found that a large part of pruning is not cutting away broken, diseased, or unhealthy parts of the plant. On the contrary, what is being pruned is healthy and growing. Likewise Christians should realize that there may be things in their lives that are not necessarily bad and perhaps are even good but God in His sovereignty and plan for our lives is pruning them away in order to accomplish one or more of the 5 reasons above.