In Part-1 of this series, we examined John 15:1-8. God the Father is looking for fruit in the lives of His children. Jesus said that if we abide in Him (Jesus), then we will bear fruit. He also said that the Father prunes those abiding in Him (Christ), so they will bear more fruit.
Pruning is not meant to hurt you, or suck the fun out of life. It is meant to make you better. Christians who really want to please God should be grateful to have sin and harmful influences removed from their lives. At times, even good things may need to be removed to make room for better and best.
This post will suggest 7-Steps for becoming more fruitful as a way to reduce the need for God to prune you.
The way to avoid being pruned by God is to recognize what needs to be pruned out of your life, and take action before God has to. God’s children should want to produce spiritual fruit. We should want to remove the things that hold us back. We should “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares” us (Heb. 12:1-2).
This process, of course, should be conducted in harmony with the Spirit of God. You should pray for guidance as you search God’s Word, seeking His will.
1. First, you must critically and honestly examine your life
• As the apostle Paul said, “Let a man examine himself . . .” (1 Cor. 11:28a / KJV)
• And “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. . .” (2 Cor. 13:5a / ESV).
2. Confess any sin in your life
• “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 / KJV).
3. Repent of any Routine or habitual sins in your life, and Remove them
• “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works . . .” (Rev. 2:5 / KJV).
• “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Rev. 3:19 / KJV).
• “Lay aside every . . . sin” (Heb. 12:1).
4. Ditch the Doubtful
The Bible does not provide specific instructions for every situation. In these cases, even sincere Christians may disagree about what is acceptable. Romans 14:1-23 and 1 Cor. 10:12-33 both provide guidance about doubtful things. You should never violate your conscience. And you should be willing to give some things up for the benefit of others.
Unless you are fully convinced that something is acceptable, it is wrong for you
Ultimately it is better to sacrifice things that might be permissible than to do something you think may be wrong. Unless you are fully convinced that something is acceptable, it is wrong for you to do. As the old saying goes, “If it is doubtful, it is dirty.”
If you want to do something, but have doubts about it, then study it out. Study God’s Word, pray about it, and seek godly counsel. But do not do it unless you are fully convinced that it is acceptable. Never violate your conscience.
• The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves” (Rom. 14:22 / NASB).
• “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23 / ESV).
• “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31 / KJV).
5. Diminish Distractions
Identify any areas in your life where you often invest excessive time, energy, or attention. These things may not be bad or sinful in of themselves, but they can become idols if you love them more than God. Even good things can be bad if they keep you from doing what is best.
Hobbies, sports, and entertainment often fall into this category. They may be good in moderation, but can be overdone. Even family, friends, and work can interfere with your fruitfulness. You do not have to cut these things out of your life entirely, but you may need to trim some of them back.
Even good things can be bad if they keep you from doing what is best
• In 1 Corinthians, Paul said that all things are lawful, but not everything is expedient. Not everything edifies us or makes us better. And we should not let anything bring us under its power. (1 Cor. 6:12; and 1 Cor. 10:23)
• We are also commanded, “Love not the world, neither the things in the world . . . (1 John 2:15-17)
• While you do not have to stop these things entirely, sometimes “complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation” (St. Augustine).
6. Filter your Friends
You become like those you spend time with. Are your friends helping you grow spiritually or hindering you?
What are your friends like? Do they love God or the world? Do they talk about spiritual things or the things of the world? Do they want to please God or their peers? Are they seeking spiritual fruit or worldly pleasure?
Are your friends helping you . . . or hindering you?
• “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2 / KJV).
• “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Prov. 13:19 / KJV).
• “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33).
7. Replace what you Remove
Most of what we do is habitual. Breaking habits is hard. And as the saying goes, “nature abhors a vacuum.”
If you want to succeed in removing something bad from your life, it is important to replace it with something good. This applies to habits, friends and food; anything you try to prune from your life.
After all, the whole reason for removing sin, distractions, and negative influences from your life is to make room for better things. It is to free up your time, energy and affections for godly habits and pursuits. The goal of this pruning is to increase your spiritual fruitfulness by becoming more like Jesus. So replace the things you remove with fruitful activities that will please and honor God.
Are you ready to voluntarily go to work pruning your own life? Or will you wait for God to do it for you?
This concludes part-2 of this two part series on Pruning.
If you have not read part-1, Click Here to be taken to it.