“1I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2Every 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 15:1-2
I find gardening therapeutic. With consistent attention and effort, the result is the sight of healthy plants fronting the common corridor outside our home. Just gazing at them brings a serene delight. Good plant health conveys abounding life and beauty, seen particularly in propagations and flowers.
Several factors contribute to good plant health. Apart from good soil, water, fertilizer, and sunlight, pruning is also essential to plant health. So, what is pruning? Here is a definition from the horticulture viewpoint, “Pruning is the removal or reduction of parts of a plant, tree, or vine that are not requisite to growth or production, are no longer visually pleasing, or are injurious to the health or development of the plant.”
Jesus uses the analogy of pruning to teach us about discipleship. Jesus is the true vine while we are His branches. He is our source of life for He nourishes us. God the Father is the vinedresser. He prunes us to enable us to be fruitful in Jesus. So how does pruning specifically lead to more fruitfulness in Christ? Let me offer two observations.
First, pruning enables new growth. When branches overgrow, they become messy. Healthy growth is stunted. Parts of the plant which are enveloped by its own wild growth will likely decay or become diseased. Pruning away unhealthy branch segments allows for new buddings and growth. Is your life becoming too cluttered because of ill-discipline to the extent that you feel immobilised and unfruitful? Will you welcome the shears of the vinedresser to enable you to grow again?
Second, pruning maintains steadfastness. When the canopy of a tree overgrows or when a potted plant grows bulky, there is the danger of overloaded branches breaking off the tree or the tendency of the potted plant developing an unsightly sag. Pruning shears or saws are needed here to maintain the integrity of the tree branches and the beauty of the potted plant. Sin has a way of weighing heavily against one’s fruitfulness in Christ. One may look well on the outside, but persistent sin will eventually wear out steadfastness. Painful pruning is necessary for recovery.
Are you currently experiencing some form of pruning? How are you feeling? Instead of pleading with God to remove His pruning shears, would you pray for God to reveal some life lessons to shape you into a more fruitful branch that will magnify Jesus?
Pruning by our loving Heavenly Father is necessary in our discipleship journey. It is key to growing in the Lord’s image.
Ps Zheng Haoren