John 15:5-8 (NIV)
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Something strange was happening in the garden the other day as I stood here. The plants all seemed to be growing fine then the strange part happened. The plants started having leaves and fruit cut off. I heard them say that as the week parts are cut off it will make the plant stronger and bear greater fruit.
Pruning is essential in maintaining the health, and fruit bearing ability of any plant or tree. Even in my vegetable garden, I have learned that simply pruning older leaves on plants like tomatoes and cucumbers can yield more vegetables, and cause the plants to thrive. I also prune my orange trees, cutting away dead branches, or branches known as suckers (which grow vertically, and do not bear fruit).
When pruning vegetable plants, one must be careful not to do too much pruning, as it can put the plant into shock, and even result in the death of the plant. Usually, I prune away older leaves that have yellowed and lost their deep green hue. This yellowing of the leaves is an indicator that the leaf is no longer beneficial to the plant. It has become dead weight, and is draining the plant of nutrients that could be going into new leaf growth, or blossoms, or increasing the size and yield of the crop.
We are like these vegetable plants. We are like God’s garden. We are like His vineyard, or His orchard. God prunes away those things in our lives that have become old, and useless. Sometimes that pruning is the removal of our “old ways’ of the world. Sometimes God prunes away our old concepts, and doctrines. Sometimes He allows us to suffer the loss of our health, or our ability to generate income, or other areas to learn dependence upon Him.
By so doing, the Lord knows that we will grow healthier, and stronger. We will grow higher towards the sunlight of His love. We will bear fruit of the Spirit, and harvest many souls for Him.
Jesus told the parable of the vine and the branches. The main Vine represents Jesus. The branches represent His followers and disciples. The branches (us) must be connected to the main Vine, from whence comes the source of life. If the branches are broken off of the main Vine, they dry up, and become useless. They can no longer bear fruit.
We must abide (continue) in Jesus; that is, we must continue to grow in Him. It is not enough to just be connected to Him. We must yield fruit. Sometimes we lose our vision, or we backslide. When this happens, we become dried up spiritually, and no longer glorify God. If this condition persists, and we don’t repent, and be grafted back into the Vine (Jesus), we are cast into the fire, and burned.
Christians don’t like to be taught about hell because it doesn't feel good to them; they are self-deceived in thinking that to avoid this topic it will go away, or cease to be a reality. We need not cower before God’s throne of grace, but we must not ignore the fact there are eternal consequences for failing to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
As I mentioned earlier, when pruning fruit trees, only the dead and sucker branches are to be removed. I know that I cannot do major pruning every year, because the plant must have time to be renewed. This is especially true with fruit trees. God told the sons of Israel to prune for six years, but on the seventh year, they were not to prune, and give the plants a rest.
Oftentimes we struggle with sin. God knows that we will sin. What keeps us in sin however, is failing to believe that we can come to God for forgiveness through the blood of Jesus. Oftentimes we just don’t feel ‘worthy’ enough for the Savior’s love and mercy. Let us each let God prune what it bad from our lives so that we can bear the good fruit.
Dear Lord, we thank You that You are there to prune the bad habits, and things that cause us to fail from our life. We pray that we would come to You faithfully and allow Your good work in us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.