January 30, 2010

A Lesson in Pruning JOHN 15:1-4

Years ago I lived in Fruitland, North Carolina. It was apple country, and several of my parishioners were growers. When I stopped by to visit one of them, his wife told me that he was in the orchard. So I walked out back to find him mercilessly cutting branches from one of the trees. Without thinking, I said, “You’re going to kill that tree!” He turned around and said, “You stick to preaching, and leave the pruning to me.”

This gentleman and I became friends, and it was from him that I learned about the pruning process. In order to produce an abundant crop of the best fruit, he had to cut as he did. It might look as if the tree was going to die, but new growth would spring from the wounds. Our conversations helped me to understand why the Lord sometimes acts as a pruning force in people’s lives.

To get a plentiful crop of spiritual fruit, our heavenly Father must remove anything that distracts or deters us from serving Him. The process is often painful. I know I’ve cried out, “More, Lord?” when He has taken the “knife” to me. But the result is always satisfying—I am a better, more accurate reflection of Jesus Christ after God cuts away a fleshly habit or worldly attitude.

Being loved by God does not mean we will be coddled—our comfort is not His primary interest. A grower must prune an apple tree to get a bountiful harvest. In the same way, God must sometimes let us feel pain so He can bring forth greater growth and more spiritual fruit.

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