He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.John 15:2 (NIV)
Are you someone who makes New Year’s resolutions?
Since the beginning of the year, the word “prune” has been on my mind. The English definition of that word is: to rid or clear of (anything superfluous or undesirable) *. This year, instead of writing out the usual list of things I was going to do or not do, I asked God to help rid me of anything in my life that is hindering my ability to be a good servant of His kingdom. That’s when John 15:2 came to mind: “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (NIV).
That verse led me to think about the pruning process of a fruit tree. At first, pruning can be ugly. The layer underneath becomes exposed and the tree may look a little messy and bare, however, the not-so-pretty-process of “cutting away” leaves room for new growth, and bigger, healthier fruit.
It’s not easy to admit when we have something in our lives that needs to be cut away. I don’t know what that looks like for you. Perhaps you have bitterness towards someone, or an addiction you keep behind closed doors, or maybe you want to spend more time in your Bible but you read Facebook more than the Good Book. (Honestly, I’ve had to raise my hand to that at times. I’m getting better, but I’ve been guilty of the Facebook reel rabbit hole.)
Here are a few interesting points I wrote in my journal about the pruning process:
- Pruning makes trees stronger because it fosters proper growth, weight distribution, and balance of the crown. That word crown really stood out to me. Isn’t that kind of what we do as Christians- balance the crown?
- Pruning leaves scars. I imagine you must have scars of your own from previous seasons of pruning.
- When you remove struggling or unattractive branches, your tree can dedicate more resources to other parts of the plant. When you allow God to cut away “dead branches” from your life, it allows you more space for spiritual nourishment.
- Pruning keeps disease from spreading. Think of bad habits in your life that may be keeping you from being the best version of yourself, (addiction, idolatry, bad eating habits, anger, etc.)
- Pruning keeps you humble. A tree that grows too massive for the back yard blocks the sunlight for other trees that need it. Overgrown trees can choke out the younger, more fragile trees. Do you have any bad habits or behaviors that could potentially hinder a newer Christian’s walk with Christ?
- Pruning keeps you in check. If a tree becomes too big and dangerous, the cost of removing it is substantially higher than the cost of pruning would have been. Think of something like a spending or gambling habit. Racking up credit cards or losing too much money at the casino can lead to an expensive, and possibly detrimental blow to your finances.
- Pruning can protect the tree from storms. A tree that is pruned and balanced can withstand higher winds than an overgrown, top-heavy tree can. Have you allowed God to work in your life in such a way that makes life’s storms more sustainable?
Friend, this week’s blog is not meant to condemn you in any way. It is simply meant to encourage you to be honest with yourself and with God. Every person on this planet has something in their lives needing improvement. No one is perfect, remember that.
Something else I find interesting in John 15:2 is the part that says “while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful”. Notice how it doesn’t say God prunes a tree and moves on? Pruning is not a one and done process. It is something that needs to take place regularly to produce more fruit. Even seasoned Christians need pruning on a regular basis. Don’t think that just because someone has been a Christian longer than you means they have everything figured out. God is ALWAYS shaping us; we just need to hand him the pruning shears and allow the great gardener to go to work.
Thank you for loving us. Thank you for the process of pruning, even when that process hurts, it is always for our good.
Today I pray for those who are struggling with addiction, anger, bad habits, or any other “bad branches” that may be hindering them from becoming the person I know you want them to be. Help them break the chains that bind them, Lord.
In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.