This post is a Bible study of John 15:1-8, in which Jesus taught His disciples the importance of abiding in Him and the reality of pruning. Jesus is the vine. We Christians are the branches. If we abide in the vine of Christ by faithfully remaining in Him, then we will grow spiritually and bear fruit. The Father wants His children to abundantly produce spiritual fruit, so God prunes our lives to make us ever more fruitful.
Plants Need Pruning
When I arrived home from work one day, I noticed a wildly overgrown branch on a rose-bush in our front garden. I hadn’t noticed the growth of this branch as it was happening. Suddenly, it was just there.
That one extra-long branch was detracting from the beautiful purpose of the rose-bush. So it had to go.
That one branch had grown longer and taller than the rest of the bush. It served no useful purpose. It had no flowers, and added nothing to the beauty of the rose-bush. It just stuck out and looked silly.
My wife must have noticed it too, because a few days later she cut it off.
We were not mad at the rose-bush. We did not want to hurt it or punish it. But that one extra-long branch was detracting from the beautiful purpose of the rose-bush. So it had to go.
“Pruning is a horticultural . . . practice involving the selective removal of parts of a plant . . . . Reasons to prune plants include deadwood removal, shaping, . . . improving or maintaining health, . . . and increasing the yield or quality of flowers and fruits. The practice entails targeted removal of diseased, damaged, dead, non-productive, structurally unsound, or otherwise unwanted tissue from crop and landscape plants.” (Wikipedia/Pruning).
Gardeners routinely use pruning to improve the health, appearance and fruitfulness of plants.
People Need Pruning Too
God is the master gardener. The Bible says that God the Father prunes unproductive things from the lives of His children to make them more fruitful (John 15:2).
The night before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples:
John 15:1 I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman.
John 15:2 Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth (prunes) it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
John 15:3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
John 15:4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.
John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.
John 15:6 If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
John 15:7 If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
John 15:8 Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples.
The Vine and the Branches
God is the master gardener
Jesus Christ is the vine. We Bible believing Christians who trust in Jesus are His disciples, and as such we are branches on the vine of Christ (John 15:5). God the Father is the vine dresser and works in our lives to increase our spiritual fruitfulness (John 15:1-2, 8).
The Father removes every branch in Christ that does not produce fruit. There are no exceptions here, all branches that are not producing fruit are removed (John 15:2a).
This is reminiscent of the parable of the barren fig tree in Luke 13:6-9. A farm owner looked for fruit from a fig tree for 3-years but found none. So, he asked his farm worker why it was wasting the ground. They agreed to cultivate the tree one more year to give it one more chance to produce, but if it remained barren, then it would be cut down.
All genuine believers should be producing a least a little fruit, so the threat of being removed from the vine of Christ should not apply. Still, this warning should motivate us to prove the genuineness of our faith by abiding in Christ and bearing spiritual fruit.
Pruning for Spiritual Fruitfulness
God wants His children to be fruitful. So like a good gardener, He watches over us, cares for us, and prunes our lives. The Father’s pruning involves the targeted removal of things in our lives that hinder our fruitfulness.
Pruning applies to all Christians abiding in the vine of Jesus Christ. God prunes the lives of every fruit bearing Christian to increase their spiritual fruitfulness. God prunes us to make us more productive spiritually, so our lives will yield abundantly more spiritual fruit (John 15:2).
Growing extra branches and leaves uses energy and nutrients that could be used for producing fruit. Pruning removes unnecessary growth that hinders productivity so the remaining branches will be more fruitful.
Pruning is meant to improve us – Not harm us
The promise of pruning applies to all fruit bearing believers abiding in the vine of Christ. No matter how fruitful we may already be; as His children, God will prune our lives to abundantly increase our spiritual fruitfulness by making us more like His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.
When we allow distractions in our lives that channel our time and resources into worldly activities that detract from our spiritual fruitfulness, God will prune us. God will cut off those unfruitful distractions to focus us on more fruitful activities.
God’s pruning is meant to improve us, not harm us. But that does not mean we will enjoy the process.
If this seems harsh, please understand that it is better to be trimmed than cut off entirely. Jesus said that those who abide in Him will bear fruit. So a lack of fruit demonstrates that one is not abiding in the vine of Jesus Christ (John 15:4-5). And if anyone does not abide in Christ, they will be thrown away as a branch and cast into the fire (John 15:6).
No one likes having things cut out of their lives that they enjoy or have invested in. But still, we should take joy in pruning (James 1:2-3), knowing we abide in God’s vine and He is actively working in our lives. The Father’s pruning is making us more like His Son, Jesus Christ.
We need to patiently endure God’s pruning so we may be made perfect, complete (James 1:3-4), and spiritually fruitful. Allowing God’s pruning to increase our spiritual fruitfulness brings the Father glory and demonstrates that we truly are disciples of Jesus Christ (John 15:8).
What Should God Prune From You?
As Christians we should desire to be faithful servants and disciples of Jesus Christ. We should also desire to glorify our Heavenly Father by abundantly bearing spiritual fruit.
Throughout the Bible we are exhorted to turn from the world, stay on the right path, and live faithfully for God, loving Him with all our heart, soul and mind. Faithful believers should actively confess and turn from sin, abide in the vine of Christ and bear abundant fruit (John 15:4-5).
God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). We do not know the Father’s plans for our lives, and we will be naturally sinful until we pass into glory. So, we can never completely escape being pruned by our loving Heavenly Father.
But, rather than passively waiting for God to prune our lives, we can seek to please and glorify Him by actively participating in the process.
We have God’s Word to instruct us and His indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us. We can choose to prune the worldly cares and distractions from our lives that hinder our fruitfulness. We can choose to partner with God in pruning our own lives.
Keep reading to learn how to prune your life.
To prune or be pruned, that is the question
Which will you choose?
Continue reading Pruning Part-2
This was the first article in a two-part series.
The next post provides 7-Steps to Fruitfulness by pruning your own life.
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