“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit and every one that does he prunes’ so that it bears more fruit.” John 15:1-2
What does it mean to be pruned? Why is it so important to prune the branches on the vine?
To harvest a bountiful, delicious crop of grapes, pruning is super important. If the branches aren’t pruned enough, the health and the quality of the grapes would suffer. When pruning the branches, the old wood is removed so that the new can grow and flourish with delicious, tasty grapes. Pruning is typically done in the winter, when things are dormant to prepare for the new growth.
When Jesus shares this parable, and uses the personification of branches and vines as us and him, what does this me for you and I?
Many people who know me know that I like to analyze things in my life to determine the roots of my issues and my sins, where I can improve in my life and relationships, to see where I’ve grown and what was the contributing factor in my growth. I think this is an important aspect of healthiness in my life. In doing so, I see my past as a part of me, in that it refines me but doesn’t define me. When I read this parable that Jesus tells his disciples, I relate the unfolding of my life, the pruning in me. I know that in all the sin and storms I’ve whirled around in, he was removing the things that hinder me in my relationship with him. He was removing the things that did not bear fruit or did not bear healthy, plentiful fruit. This process each time prepared me for new growth that flourished inward and outward producing useful fruit for the kingdom of God. The amazing thing is that the greatest pruning began when I was dormant in my faith.
Sometimes there are things in our lives, habits, relationships, sinfulness that cause impediments to us being greater in our journey to holiness. These obstructions or things that hinder our growth need to be removed as much as can be so that the “new wood” can begin to grow and produce beautiful, healthy, delicious fruit.
It’s inviting and opening our hearts to Jesus within us that allows God to prune us, remove the “old wood” so that he can refine us into the person he has created us to be.
“Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.” John 15:4
We may walk through fire or have to cross a raging river as part of this refinement; but in the midst of it, he will be right there with us in the fire and in the river, carrying us through it all. “When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, nor will flames consume you.” Isaiah 43:2 As long as we keep God’s commandment to believe in Christ and love one another, then we will remain united to Him (1 John 3:24). The Holy Spirit will be our affirmation.
Because the fruit we will bear are the fruits of the Holy Spirit:
When God is pruning you, he is strengthening you and perfecting the fruits of the Holy Spirit in you so that you can grow closer to him and establish a deeper friendship with him. These healthy crops will bring you closer to holiness, closer to sainthood, your ultimate destination.
Have you been pruned lately? Are you being pruned today? Open your heart and allow God to prune you in all areas of life.
Can you imagine a world full of ripe fruits of the Holy Spirit? Wow what a world that would be!
Lord, prune the areas in my life that are not producing fruit. The fruit in my life stems from the love I outpour. When things are going well in my life, it is easy for me to pour a cup of love to my neighbor. On the days I’m struggling and find it hard to love, reveal your love for me so even then I can pour a cup of love to my neighbor. Amen