“My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:8, CSB)
Whenever we talk about living fruitful lives, the conversation generally circles around the things we should be doing. And rightly so—faith without action cannot be called Christian discipleship. That said, God is also concerned with cutting away things in our life that hinder our ability to produce fruit: sins, distractions, obsessions, ambitions, worries, fears, etc. When did you last consider what God may want to cut away from your life?
Jesus called the Father the vinedresser (John 15:1). He tends (as severely as needed) to every branch joined to Jesus, who is the vine from which our fruitfulness utterly depends. There is a serious warning in the depiction of the vinedresser removing every branch that does not bear fruit (John 15:2). More promising (though still difficult), in the same sentence Jesus teaches us the way that the Father tends to those who do bear fruit: “every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2). Pruning is a necessary removal of whatever might be hindering the increasing fruitfulness that God desires in our living.
A caring brother shared a book with me recently by Dr. Henry Cloud, who writes about the importance of pruning. To illustrate, he explains that rosebushes and other plants produce more buds than the plant can sustain. If all the buds are allowed to remain, then the plant won’t produce nearly as many mature roses. “The gardener,” Dr. Cloud writes, “frees those needed resources so the plant can redirect them to the buds with the greatest potential to become mature roses. Those buds get the best that the bush has to offer, and they thrive and grow to fullness. But the rosebush could not do this without pruning. It is a necessity of life for rosebushes.”
That was helpful for me. God is not only interested in cutting away things that are sick or dead (i.e. sinful), but also those things which—thought not wrong in themselves—are taking away from the main things that we were designed to become and produce. Take a few moments in your prayer time this week and ask the Vinedresser: “What needs to be cut?”