When I read John chapter 15, I think of my dad doing yard work when I was growing up. My mom always cringed, and still does, when dad got the pruning shears out because it meant her gorgeous Rose Bushes and Crêpe Myrtles with hot pink blooms would be reduced to stubs.
It makes me laugh to think about this memory and how my dad would, and still will, defend his work as being for the future health and growth of the rose bushes or crepe myrtle trees. And with a pile of what appeared to be healthy, full branches laying to the side it seemed impossible to think those poor plants and trees would ever look the same again. But, sure as the sun rises they come back fuller, stronger, and healthier than before. And, all along, Dad was right.
The practice of pruning shrubbery, vines, fruit bearing plants and trees has long been believed by gardeners and landscapers to result in allowing the trees to increase their yield. In other words, pruning expands their capacity to give off something pleasing and useful to the gardener.
In John 15 we see our Heavenly Father likened to a gardener who prunes the vine: Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Another interesting practice if you have any experience or knowledge of grape vines is that you can can actually graft a new young shoot into an older and more mature root system and vine to create a more productive vineyard.
This analogy of grafting is also used in Romans 11:17 as it talks about the gentiles being grafted in to God’s Olive Tree. I love how the Bible uses such simple and natural examples to explain the things of the Spirit. I love that I can look at nature, think on my dad’s landscaping and my Papa’s gardening and farming growing up and receive revelation about what God has told us in his word.
As I read John 15, verse 2 says:
“Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.”
We see here that when you are bearing fruit, a season of “pruning” will come, but what exactly does pruning mean? It means to “trim (a tree, shrub, or bush) by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, especially to increase fruitfulness and growth.”
Essentially, God will cut out and trim out the overgrowth or the “dead” things in our lives that are inhibiting our growth and ability to produce the best fruit we can. This doesn’t mean God hurts us or causes sickness. But rather He helps trim away the things that are inhibiting our growth, which could be anything in your life:
- Screen time
- Unhealthy relationships
- Over volunteering
I want to produce and bear fruit that is useful and brings joy and satisfaction to people’s needs and most importantly to God. This requires not just being grafted in to the Vine, but abiding in the Vine. And, to do that it may require pruning, in fact I know it does, and it requires sacrifice and taking a step back to evaluate what you can let go of and allow God to trim away so that He can expand your capacity to produce the BEST fruit and to be the best branch of the Vine you can be!
When we choose to abide in Him and be willing to trust Him to help us trim and prune the overgrowth that’s choking out our ability to bear fruit, we will be able to produce a more abundant harvest than we thought possible.