UCAN sharing: Prune Me!
Scripture: Jn 15:1-2
Prune: to cut or lop superfluous or undesired twigs, branches, or roots from; trim. (dictionary.com)
11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Heb. 12:11
For man there are all kinds of people that believe a variety of things. The bible indicates only two kinds of people, those who are connected to Jesus and those who are not. We make variations of this but God doesn’t because he knows that this is the most important thing. A person who is without Christ is like a wild bush. It grows any way it wants and its looks show this. The branches grow in all directions without discipline so that the bush has a wild look to it. The wild bush may bear some fruit but it may be bitter or misshapen. Overall if we look at the bush honestly it is not pleasing at all. A Christian who is led by the Spirit on the other hand is totally different. They have form and God directs their paths so that they bear much fruit. Since God is their gardener He knows exactly what he is doing and fertilizes, removes weeds and nurtures the bush so that it is at its best. This bush knows the gardener and yields to him allowing him to do what is needed. As a result the godly bush is pleasing to the eye and bears good things so that it impacts others with life.
Jesus often used common everyday things to present deep spiritual ideas. In John 15 we see the need to be connected to God through Jesus. God wants us to bear much fruit. For a person of Jesus day this kind of analogy would relate to them quickly since most were agricultural in labor. But for us today it may be hard to see what God is try to say. It is important to grasp what Jesus is saying so it might take a little meditation on his word and prayer.
Let’s begin at one end and move across to the ideal. A person without God is carnal and lives daily in sin. Sin destroys but it also motivates behavior that brings about this destruction. This is why Jesus says that a good tree can’t bear bad fruit and a bad tree can’t bear good fruit (Matt. 7:18). If you see a bush and its fruit are weird in color and shape and taste terrible you can clearly say that the tree is not good. This reflects the true nature of the tree. Man apart from Christ, and the word used for being in Christ in John 15 is “abide” which means to continue in, be a part of consistently, is living by their own decisions thus the results seen in the fruit. Man alone can’t bear good fruit. It is not part of who we are. In Matt 15:19 Jesus makes it clear that from our hearts come the behaviors that make us not right in God’s eyes.
19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.
So man in pride believes he is Ok because he bear some fruit though that fruit is not good. It is laced with all kinds of evil but we refuse to see this and so think life is good. This is a powerful deception that is produced by the desire to sin. When we want to sin it is because we believe that there is something pleasing and good in it (Gen 3:6).v We can’t see our sin because we have no way of judging it; we are spiritually blind. Only the Holy Spirit can reveal to man his sin. So this person grows up doing whatever they believe in. It bears fruit that leads to death (Rom. 6:23).
Now a true Spirit-filled person is led by the Holy Spirit and is submitted so that they do only what God wants. Jesus relates obedience to love in verses 10 and 14. If we are loving God we will want to obey and follow Him. This means doing what God wants. His perfect, good and pleasing will is what we want foremost. Yet this doesn’t come about easily since we are all born in to a rebellious and prideful nature. Something has to assist us to become God’s people. This is God’s pruning.
Pruning is the way a gardener changes a plant so that it bears more fruit than it would on its own. A gardener knows when and how to trim the tree to remove branches that use resources but don’t produce good. In a similar way God prunes us by allowing trials to come on us that reveal our weaknesses and need for Him. Here all Christians have a choice. We can turn to God or remain in our pride. Our fruit, meaning how we behave
tells us if we are consistently yielding ourselves to God’s pruning (will). Bad fruit means we are failing to allow God to remove what he desires. We are living in the flesh and need to seek God for the reason why and repent. When we do yield God is quick to remove the sin and bring on us a blessing of joy and righteousness. We are able to draw closer to God and our intimacy with Him increases. This with time, matures us till we bear much good fruit for the Lord. But we must want to be pruned.
The problem is that we don’t like God’s pruning. Many Christians seek compromise rather than change according to God’s will. We want the middle ground so we play the “Good Christian” but inside we are filled with unresolved issues that are a breeding ground for sin. There is a deception promoted in Christianity that living for God should never mean suffering and being sorrowful. This is a lie because Christ himself suffered (Isa 53:3) and if we don’t see how ugly sin makes us we will never truly repent of it. We will seek ways that seem right but are not and this leads to death (Prov. 14:12). The end result is we bear bad fruit and if we remain like this Jesus says in verse 6 that we get casted out and withered; finally gathered and burned.
Sounds harsh but it is an act of love that God prunes us. He is keeps us in Him so that we live and have all that he has for us. It is only our carnal mind that sees this as something to resist. So if we wish to be a planting of the Lord (Isa 61:3) then we have to seek God for His pruning. We have to set aside our desires and allow Him to lead us to change no matter what this involves. We will only do this when we know the gardener personally. It is a matter of trust. This is the main idea in John 15. When we love God, knowing him, he makes us change for our own good. We can resist but it is to our loss. We need to learn to yield to him and do what he wants because we trust and believe in his love for us. We need to seek him to lead us through our trials that we may grow and bear fruit for his glory. It is a choice we must make daily. May you bear much fruit.
What are the fruit of the Spirit? Gal. 5:22-23. Contrast these fruit with the fruit of the flesh V.19-21. Which fruit are you bearing? Isn’t it time to start bearing good fruit? Make this a priority in your life. Ask God to help. Pray over your weaknesses and confess them to God (1 Jn 1:9). Begin believing that you will overcome them as you obey. Don’t stop working it out no matter how many times you fall. Your victory is coming.