That You May Bear More Fruit1
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every 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)
Pruning is defined as:
“trim… by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, especially to increase fruitfulness and growth,”
“reduce the extent of (something) by removing superfluous or unwanted parts. “
Did you experience pruning in 2020? Was something cut away from you? Maybe you lost something that didn’t seem “superfluous,” nor was it unwanted. Its loss was painful. Some of our losses were common—the beauty of human faces, free coming and going and assembling in the extent to which were accustomed, unhindered fellowship with our full church congregation, a sense of security in our institutions. Some were individual—parameters of ministry shrunk, dreams and plans delayed or laid aside, experiences taken away. Some of what we lost will be returned; others are gone forever.
I struggled off and on with a sense of fruitlessness in my ministry. My family experienced the letdown of Nathan’s first college football season being postponed and the corresponding mental and emotional difficulties associated with the whole first semester being a disappointment. We lost the joy of being physically present during our new granddaughter’s progress through the first three months of life. Yes, we adjusted. Yes, we knew that we were blessed to maintain our jobs, our health, our sense of community with friends and family and church. But as we all have learned, gratitude for what is doesn’t alleviate the pain of the loss of what was.
But God, who is “not wanting nor wasting but ruling in light,” is the vinedresser with a good plan. His pruning allows us to bear more fruit. We don’t see it right away. In the nature of pruning, a time of “fruitlessness” follows. The branch appears bare, stunted, even ugly. We may feel useless, but down inside the Vine is life, life that is being channeled to the branches who will soon be visibly productive.
Take heart, Christian! The truth of Christ is for us!
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing…. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. (John 15:5,7-9)