John 15 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. The imagery is SO good:
1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
Before I got into gardening, I’d look at this passage and say, “Hold up a minute! Why are BOTH the unproductive AND productive parts of this plant [or me] getting cut off?!”
But now that I’ve been in the garden and made those tough cuts on productive plants, I get it.
It’s super easy to remove a dead twig. You can usually just snap it off without using pruners. Dead wood breaks easily – it’s brittle. But cutting live, green growth seems counter-intuitive. However, if pruned correctly, the plant becomes even more productive. I’ve witnessed this myself, year after year. You should see our fig tree the summer after a hard prune… it’s so full of figs that we can’t give them away fast enough!
Pruning does a lot of great things for a plant:
- It redirects growth, so limbs can be trained the way they should go
- It rejuvenates the plant, triggering new growth
- It strengthens the plant – poor structure can lead to cracks and limb or total plant loss when snow, ice, or wind do their thing
- It produces more flowers and fruit – by cutting off branches, more energy is available for reproduction (AKA flowers and fruit!)
The pruned plant is one that is living its best life.
Back to the spiritual side of things, how are you being pruned right now?
Maybe you’ve been upset about the ways you’ve been “cut off” – changes in areas of your life that were once thriving and now just aren’t.
Stop and consider the following:
- How might this redirect my growth? Might the changes I’m experiencing draw me closer to Christ? Or at least point me towards Him?
- Before this change happened, were things becoming kind of stale? Did I need a fresh start or rejuvenation?
- Can I learn something from this experience that will make my faith stronger?
- What unexpected fruits might come from this change?
The last part of the John 15 passage shows us how we can consistently and reliably produce this fruit:
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (v.4)
Remain in Jesus! Even after the pruning is done (maybe especially after the pruning is done).
I’m praying for you this week, that you would identify areas of pruning in your life and see them for the blessing they will become!
Use as your phone wallpaper or lock screen this week as a reminder that pruning leads to fruit!
Wednesday: We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for Pruning – It’s Not that Hard!
Next Sunday: Spring Forth