“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.”
As a Christ-follower, we are privileged with a Faithful Gardener.
The gardener of a vineyard is an essential part of the growing process. In fact, the vine and the branches are existing for the exclusive benefit of the gardener. He has a vested interest in seeing them taken care of. He tends his vineyards well to see the greatest amount yielded from their roots. He cares about both quality and quantity.
He prunes the diseased wood that seeks to strangle the fruit production. He cuts away the dead wood that breeds disease and insects. He is intentional in his efforts to better his garden.
If you look at the entire passage from John 15:1-11, you’ll see a progression from some fruit to more fruit, and then to much fruit. This is the goal of the gardener as well as our Faithful Gardener; to see much fruit produced in our lives.
Now, you may be asking, “What kind of fruit are you talking about? Am I supposed to be producing apples, oranges, grapes? What is this fruit?”
Well, for us it is a spiritual fruit. We bear fruit when we share the gospel with others. As we become more like Jesus, the Bible calls that bearing fruit. There are also certain characteristics that we exhibit that the Bible calls fruit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control.
As a Christ-Follower, we are privileged to have a Faithful Gardener in our lives that prunes us that we might grow more of these type of fruits. Sometimes he cuts offshoots in our life that are robbing us of growing deeper in our relationship with him. Sometimes He cuts away things that may be good or better so that we might enjoy the best things. Pruning hurts, but it helps move us from where we are to where God wants us.
Most commonly, there are three areas that our Faithful Gardener has a tendency to visit when pruning us for greater fruit production: possessions, processes, and people.
There are times when our “stuff” gets in the way of us having a deeper and more intimate relationship with God. From cars and boats to cell phones, computers and guns, there are a variety of possessions that can interrupt a deeper relationship with God. The faithful Gardener understands that those things will never bring the satisfaction that your soul longs for so out of love he will sometimes remove those possessions that we might possess more of Him.
Many times there are processes in our daily life that can become destructive in God’s design of producing fruit through us. The easiest example is food and drink; too much or either can lead to our demise. But this is also true for other processes: hobbies, sports (amateur or professional), addictions, pornography, television, etc. Some of the processes that exist in our life are not necessarily bad (obviously, I’m not speaking of pornography and drug addiction) but when those processes interrupt our fellowship with God, he’ll come along and do what he must to prune those from us.
This particular area of pruning is particularly challenging, in most circumstances. For those that have experienced a little more in life, this particular field will resonate more fully. There are times that God prunes us from certain influencers that have existed in our life. Now, I’m not merely talking about someone passing from this life to the next. While that may be the case, more often than not, there are times when our relationships, friendships, and stuff such as that keep us from producing the fruit that God wants to see out of us. There are people that we can be around that we begin to idolize or lift up or follow their influence to the point that they are distracting us from where we should be placing our trust, in Him.
While the Faithful Gardener’s shears hurt in the midst of the pruning, we can rest in the reality that He’s seeking our best in the midst of the pain, even when we don’t realize it.
Lord, help us, for we are often lukewarm and chilled; unbelief mars our confidence, and sin makes us forget you. Let the weeds that grow in our souls be cut at their roots; grant us to know that we truly live only when we live to you, all else is trivial. Your presence alone can make us holy, devout, strong and happy. Abide in us, most gracious God.