– George MacDonald
Pruning the Deadwood
If you think of Jesus as the Vine, which He calls Himself in John 15, then we are the branches, and any branch that is not attached to the vine must be pruned to bring on more growth. Any dead branches are removed and sent to the burn pile. Jesus said, “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2). We will either grow or decay and die. It is a choice we must all make.
Removing the Branches
One thing we should know is “the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4), and Jesus is “the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). No branch can grow without being attached to the plant, and neither will we grow if we’re not abiding in Christ.
Jesus has already told us why God prunes us. It is “that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2c). When I trim our rose bush in the fall, it almost looks like I’m killing it, but the more pruning I do, the better it flowers the next year. If I do too much, I can kill it, but if I don’t prune it all, some of the branches will fail to bring forth roses. God prunes us so we’ll produce more fruit, and “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8). Abide in the Vine, bear fruit, and you can glorify the Father. Wow! Let’s do that!
More Growth than Ever
The next spring, right around Mother’s Day, our rose bush put out a spectacular flower display. It had almost 60 roses on it at one time (counting the buds). I doubt the rose bush remembers the pruning I gave it last fall. Now, all we can see is roses. There was more growth than ever because I cared enough to prune it. God does the same for us.
We are commanded to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ (2nd Pet 3:18). If we are not growing, we are not in the will of God. If we recognize we must grow or die, and that pruning by God is for our good, we can grow more than ever…or we can stop growing, and wait for God to prune us. I already know which one is more painful. I would imagine you do too by now.