“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10)
Every fall, Ricky and his sister Anna got to go with their cousins to the apple orchard. The orchard was way out in the country, and Ricky and Anna could smell the sweet, spicy scent of ripe apples even before all the kids could pile out of Uncle Josh’s truck.
The orchard owners would let them do “taste tests” on all the different kinds of apples, to see if they could tell the difference (sweet, or tart, or juicy, or crisp, and so on). They learned that apple trees need about six to eight weeks of cold winter weather so they can go dormant (which is like hibernating, or sleeping for a while) so that the trees will produce juicier, more flavorful fruit. They also learned that if the owners pruned (cut, trimmed back) a tree, it would produce more–and many times better–fruit than it would have if they had left it alone. And Ricky’s jaw dropped when the owners told them that sometimes a branch from one tree is grafted onto another tree–so that it is possible to have different kinds of apples growing on the same tree!
The Bible talks about God like a husbandman, which is the name for someone whose job it is to care for an orchard or vineyard. Instead of trees or vines, God cares for people! Like the orchard owners, God puts a lot of hard work (and seemingly ugly work) into taking care of His own, and helping them bear the best “fruit.”
Did you know that God prunes (cuts and trims) His people so that they will grow spiritually? In John 15:2, Jesus says, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” Sometimes this process that God uses can feel painful for us, but we still ought to rejoice that He is working on us–because it is going to reap good results. We read in James 1:2-3, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”
What is that spiritual fruit that God is trying to help us bear? He tells us in Galatians that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffereing, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” We know that God has many good thoughts toward us. (See Psalm 40:5 and Jeremiah 29:11.) And we can be sure it is God’s will for us to bear fruit. (See John 15:8.) Knowing these things and knowing what we know about God’s character and power, we should trust the heavenly “Husbandman” when He “purges” us or when He tries our faith. It is His goal to “grow us” into people who are more and more and more like Jesus Christ. And being more like Christ is the way we bear fruit.
God is our “Husbandman,” and He wants to “grow” us spiritually for His glory and for our good.
» Does it feel like God has been “pruning” me or putting me through some uncomfortable “rough weather” lately?
» Does God ever have a mean or evil purpose for doing what He does?
» What kind of fruit is God trying to bring forth out of my life?