Outside our house we have a very old rose bush that was there when we moved in nearly 30 years ago. In its earlier life it had not been well pruned and it had become more and more straggly. I was reluctant to prune it too hard in view of its age, as I thought I might destroy it. However, one branch was so long and was leaning over so far that the weight of it was threatening to uproot the whole plant. I therefore decided it was time for drastic action! I cut it back almost to the ground and was greatly surprised to find that following this it produced vigorous new growth and is now much stronger and healthier than before.
Jesus speaks about the need for pruning in John 15, where He tells us that He is the true vine. Likening His Father to the gardener or vinedresser, He tells us that God will cut off every branch in Him that bears no fruit. We can understand the need for dead and rotten wood to be cut out of a plant to prevent decay and disease spreading. In a similar way, God wants to remove from our lives all the ‘dead works’ and rotten parts.
More surprising, however, is the fact that Jesus says He will also prune the branches that do bear fruit. When the grapes have been harvested on a vine, the farmer will cut off all the trailing branches, going right back to the main trunk. This is in order to produce new strong growth which will bear the following season’s grapes. If left without pruning, the branches will lose strength and will not be as fruitful. In our lives, the Father wants to prune back even those parts that have been fruitful, to prepare us for an even more fruitful season to come.
The process of pruning is not always pleasant! But James tells us to: ‘Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance’ (James 1:2-3). Peter also speaks of trials coming ‘so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed’ (1 Peter 1:7). It is often through trials and difficulties that we are refined, tested and pruned, and this makes us even more fruitful for the Kingdom.
So be encouraged if you are undergoing a pruning process today. It may be the Divine Gardener at work preparing you for a season of even greater fruitfulness!
Prayer: Father, thank You that You know exactly what is needed in my life to make me more fruitful for You. Please continue to remove from me all those things that are harmful to my growth in You, and continue Your work of pruning so that I can bear good fruit for Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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