“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 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).
Jesus often used agricultural metaphors appropriate to the culture of His day. Vines would be commonplace where Jesus lived. They would be found in vineyards, kept for growing grapes to press wine, but they would also grow wild wherever they might find favorable soil, perhaps even by a path or between rocks (cf. Luke 8:4-8).
Jesus likened His disciples to the branches on the vine. What kind of branch are you? Are you fruitful or unfruitful?
The branches that don’t bear any fruit are cut off the vine and taken away where they will whither and ultimately be thrown into the fire (John 15:6). This should make us feel uncomfortable about not bearing any fruit!
But Jesus also says that even the branches that are fruitful will be pruned. As Bill Johnson recently said, “Pruning is your reward for being fruitful because it is your path to even greater fruitfulness.”
I often hear people talk about God pruning their dead wood away. But that isn’t pruning! That’s removing fruitless dead wood! Jesus says pruning is reserved only for fruitful branches. In other words, it means cutting back things that are actually bearing fruit for the sole purpose of bearing even more fruit. Pruning in this way is counter-intuitive. Why cut away at the fruitful branch when it’s being fruitful? Simple: because the Father intends for you to bear EVEN MORE fruit than you do currently.
“Pruning is your reward for being fruitful because it is your path to even greater fruitfulness” – Bill Johnson — Click to Tweet!
I spoke to a friend recently who sensed the Lord has told her to pull back from two very fruitful areas of ministry for a season of rest and refocus. She has seen wonderful fruit in these ministries. But the Lord is pruning her for one reason only—to see her become even more fruitful.
Does it make sense? Not really (at least not in our own dull minds). But by pruning away the fruitful branch, she is being refocused on letting the life of Christ flow into and through her in such a way as to bring first of all fresh growth followed by greater fruitfulness.
A Pruning Prayer: Heavenly Father, You are the Vinedresser. Teach me to stay embedded in Jesus, the True Vine. Let His life flow in me and through me. Show me any area of fruitfulness in my life that needs to be pruned so that You might release even more fruit through me. Amen.
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