He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. – John 15:2 NLT
The moral of this verse is, “You’re pruned if you do and you’re pruned if you don’t.” In the world of landscaping, many plants must be pruned. Whether you are pruning the dead parts or you are cutting it back so the roots have time to become established so the plant can grow stronger and bigger, pruning is a necessary part of the plant’s growth. Many years ago, I planted a lilac bush given to me by my grandmother. It was a switch of a plant that to most people looked more like a dead stick than a lilac bush. My grandmother, who was an amazingly skilled gardener, gave me good instructions on how to plant the “stick” and how to water it to make it grow. I was very excited to have a part of my grandmother’s garden transplanted to my yard. A few weeks later my husband, while weed-eating the lawn, let the weed-eater get too close to the stick and chopped my potential prize-winning lilac bush down. I was certain that I would never see the beautifully fragrant lilac blossoms I had been dreaming of. As the summer wore on, I began to notice the regrowth of the lilac bush. Even though it had been cut down to about a two-inch stick, it continued to live. In fact, when it came back, it was thicker and stronger than before. This unintentional pruning gave the lilac bush’s roots the time they needed to get established so the bush would grow even bigger and more beautiful. For the lilac bush, the pruning didn’t stop with the simple whack of the weed-eater string; it continued for years to come. Each year, I would intentionally prune the bush to control the size and shape of the bush. Each intentional snip of the healthy branches caused even more beautiful blooms to grow the next year. This continued year after year as the lilac bush simply became more beautiful with each passing year.
This is the very same concept that Jesus is teaching in the book of John. Our individual lives and our relationships grow better when God tends the soil of our hearts. Relationships, like our faith in God, is about dying to ourselves and living in Christ. Without the willingness to be pruned of selfishness and unloving behaviors, our relationships will never be what they can be. To the plant, pruning may seem like an unloving and unwanted event, but to the gardener this intentional process produces amazing results. Don’t shrink back from the pruning process. Allow God to do what He needs to do in you so that you become strong and healthy, producing the best fruit. As each of you allow God to work on you, your relationships will become the masterpiece that brings glory to the Gardener.
As you spend time taking a walk, or just in a time of quietness with God, ask yourself these questions: Where am I allowing God to prune me? What good fruit do I see in my life? How can I embrace the pruning times in my life?