Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Process of Pruning

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:5

 A few weeks ago I wrote about the biblical principle of sowing and reaping, the idea that when we give generously to others, God brings an incredible harvest in our lives. However, part of the process of experiencing this harvest is allowing God to prune us. Yes, even if we remain in Him and our life is bearing fruit, the pruning is unavoidable.

 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 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 15:1

 According to this verse, pruning sounds to me like a painful process! However, as painful as it can be to go through this "cutting off", it is necessary and worthwhile.

 Here's why.

  1. God's pruning improves the overall health of our spiritual lives. 
The reason a gardener prunes his plant is to remove older stems, which encourages the plan to put energy into new growth, keeping the plant young. A plant that is not pruned becomes unhealthy.

  2. God's pruning redirects our spiritual growth. 
Each branch that is cut stops the plants growth in one direction and redirects it in another. Sometimes God shuts a door in one area because He wants to refocus our efforts, energy and gifting in another - often one where He knows we'll be more effective. If we exist to bring God glory and build His kingdom, it's not so much about where I want to go and what I want to do, but where He can use me the most.

  3. God's pruning prevents the spread of sin.
If there is a "branch" or area of our life being controlled by sin, it won't remain isolated. Just like a plant with a disease, sin will spread to the rest of our life, poising and killing the good work being done in us. Allowing God to prune us means asking His Spirit to convict us of our sin, free us from it and heal the damage that's been done. This kind of pruning is often painful, but so necessary for us to experience the abundant life His has planned.

  4. God's pruning improves the quantity and quality of fruit in our lives.
Pruning at the right time and in the right place can actually increase the number of shoots produced by a plant, thus increasing its yield. A temporary decrease in an area of your life will actually bring the increase! Don't give up on the vision God's given you, but press on. Your breakthrough could be right around the next corner.

  5. God's pruning strengthens our roots.
God's desire is for us to be rooted and established in HIS love first and foremost. These roots of deep relationship with Him grow in the dark, in the secret place when no one else is watching. And the time we invest in our intimate relationship with Jesus helps our roots to go down deep, preparing us for future, outward growth. If we experience too much growth above the surface before establishing these roots, it will ultimately cause more harm than good.

  Can you see how God is pruning certain areas of your life right now, or in the past? It can be hard to watch doors close in our faces, but remember that "He who began a good work in your will be faithful to bring it to completion" (Philippians 1:6). He's not nearly finished with you yet, sister!

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