Day 70: March 11, 2023

Pruning Isn’t Punishment

Key Verse to Read and Treasure

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, ESV)

For Insight

The first scenario should cause us all to shiver and pray not to be one of those branches! We don’t want to be the branch that isn’t bearing any fruit and the gardener needs to perform that drastic surgery of complete removal. It’s one thing to need the pruning that will result in bearing more fruit, we are still part of the vine when we undergo a “reduction” cut, or a “heading” cut, both of these result in a healthier branch but do not remove the branch from its life-source. Whereas a complete removal means the branch is dead with no chance of life outside the vine and is thrown into the fire.

An interesting fact about a complete removal. The skilled gardener will give the branch every chance and apply every method they know in order to restore the branch before cutting it completely off. The gardener is treating the branch, watching it closely, touching it, hoping over it because they want cutting it off to be the very last resort.

We can see God, the vinedresser doing this for the branches in the true vine, Jesus. He is taking special care to do everything that can be done in order to save the branch from complete removal. Is chastening needed? Is there a need to convict the soul and conscience? Is there a need to apply great suffering? God, the gardener is doing whatever is necessary to save the nonresponsive, obstinate branch until all signs point to the hardening of the heart and the branch has chosen death instead of life.

The good news is that even if the branch—you and I—are bearing minimal fruit he will apply less drastic methods so we can remain part of the vine. So we can be nurtured back to the place where we live up to our God-given potential to produce the fruit we are able. We are being pruned back to the place where we know you are totally dependent on the vine for everything, “Apart from the vine you can’t do anything (John 15:5).

Every branch in Jesus has a pruning testimony. As Paul wrote in Romans “we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. No one is righteous. Not even one (Read Romans 3:9-26). We have all had to undergo some form of pruning. We all know why God is or has pruned us back at times and how far he has had to cut us.

Pruning hurts but pruning is the place of blessing for the believer. As Paul said no pruning (suffering) is pleasant at the time but serves a great purpose. If God prunes you its because he sees you have great potential to bear fruit that will increase the kingdom of God on earth.  

God pruned Peter when Peter threatened to keep Jesus from going to the cross. Jesus told Peter, “Get behind me Satan.” For a moment Peter lost his status as a disciple but Jesus restored him after he was resurrected and walked along the shore with Peter, telling him to “feed his sheep.” (Read John 21:15-19).

God pruned Saul when he knocked him down on the road to Damascus. Saul thought he was doing the right thing persecuting Christians for their faith in Jesus. God did not want to cut him off completely, he knew Saul would be one who produced abundant fruit, so God cut him back to faith in the right way. Saul was restored and renamed Paul.

God pruned Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Martha, Gideon, we could keep naming those whose stories we are familiar with. God prunes so we can be, not just people with better character or attitude, or perform more holy deeds, but that we might love more and witness Christ to others which results in more disciples. That is the fruit we are to bear. It’s the fruit we need to measure ourselves by individually, as families, as communities of believers. If we are not bearing the fruit of souls then God will prune us so we can.

Lord, the task of pruning belongs t ono one except you. Thank you for pruning me when I have needed it but especially thank you for not cutting me completely away from my life source, the vine Jesus. May I be a producer and not die on the vine. Amen

For Application

Is the fruit you are bearing more than holy deeds and good works? Is your fruit the souls of the lost coming to faith in Jesus so they can become a branch on his vine?

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