John 15:1-8 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
John 15 is one of the passages that is easier to preach than it is to live. However, it is vital to successful Christian living. Jesus and the Father desire that we be fruitful, Christ-abiding Christians. But as with everything that is worth something (discipleship, godly children, etc.), it doesn’t come without a cost. We must possess a willingness to go through two types of pruning if we’re to be “much fruit” bearing Christians.
Purging (pruning) by the Father – As with a rose bush, grape vine, or tree that will be thriving and fruitful, we must be willing to be pruned if we are going to be the fruitful Christians He desires us to be. We realize, however, that the pruning process isn’t a fun one. The farming in Jesus’ day (to which He was referring) teaches us that there are two kinds of pruning the farmer applied to the grapes. We’d do well to take note, as they apply to our lives so well:
- Spring Pruning – The first pruning took place in the spring, before fruit bearing and harvest time. This was known as the “cleansing” part of the pruning process. This was the time where the husbandman came and got rid of anything that would harm, suck at, or take away from, the branches’ ability to bear good fruit. Twigs that latched on, but served no purpose were taken away. Insects and harmful leech plants were cut off. Even leaves and parts that were attached to the plant would be cut if they would take away from it’s ability to bear the right fruit. This reminds me of us when we begin to grow as a Christian. The husbandman (the Father) comes by and begins to cut off, or prune, things in our life that would harm our ability to be fruitful. Maybe it’s the wrong kind of music, or friends, or sin that’s harmful. Maybe it’s worldly desires or friends, or a temporal value system. The point of Spring pruning is that if we’re to be fruitful in our lives, we must be willing to allow the Lord to prune those things that would hinder our fruitfulness, no matter what they are or what the pruning process feels like. It’s worth it to be fruitful.
- Fall Pruning – The second season of pruning is totally different. This is another level of pruning. By this time, the cleansing has taken place. By this time, the fruit has grown, and even been picked and harvested. By this time, the branches have been fruitful. Oh, but the husbandman isn’t done with the vine, or with the branches. We see that the husbandman wants what’s best for us, and what’s best for the harvest. So He’s willing to come and purge even what has been a fruitful branch. At this pruning, he prunes the actual branches that had been fruitful, that they might bear “more fruit”. These things aren’t bad, but they’re necessary for “more fruit” to come the next season. This reminds me of Christians who have been willing to remove many things that would be harmful. They’ve begun to be fruitful. They’ve pleased the husbandman. But then the husbandman comes by with the pruners, once again, with a proposition, “do you want to bear ‘much fruit?'” And if allowed, he begins a different kind of pruning. This pruning produces patience. This pruning produces wisdom. This pruning produces godliness. This pruning often produces a manifestation of God’s grace not before experienced by this “branch”. This pruning is sometimes more painful. It doesn’t cut off sinful things, so to say, but is a removal of anything in our lives that would hinder us from being a “much fruit” type of Christian. This pruning may bring sorrow, at times. If may (most of the time does) require sacrifice. It may require my “decreasing” so He could increase.
The eternal fruit that is born is worth it all the pruning we can go through. Experiencing God’s grace is worth it. Sending treasures ahead is worth it. Seeing the difference it makes in the lives of others is worth it. When the Father brings His shears our way, let’s willingly and patiently accept the pruning process, whether Spring pruning or Fall pruning, that we might bear much fruit, and that our fruit might remain.