John 15:1-2, 8 says… “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. […] By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
God’s pruning in our lives is never easy. But the Bible says that it must happen so that we may bear MORE fruit. It doesn’t say any fruit at all… there is already some fruit in our lives… but that He desires more fruit to be produced in our lives.
It seems to me that God has been doing some heavy pruning in my life these last couple of years. He’s been pruning away my anger, my disappointment, and my hurt feelings of my childhood. He’s been pruning the insecure & self-seeking actions at my work. He’s been pruning my self-reliant nature so that am forced to lean on Him and trust Him with every detail of my life. And it probably won’t be the last of the pruning. But John says that it will bring glory to Him and that my life will produce much fruit from it.
Everyone that grows grapes knows that pruning is essential to the quantity & quality of grapes a vine produces. So I did a little research to learn more about the process of pruning grapes. First of all, there are a variety of methods used to prune & train a grape vine. The type of pruning depends on the variety of grapes. But no matter which method is used the philosophy is the same. Pruning prevents the vine from growing too much foliage, which in turn, amounts to not enough fruit.
Aren’t we all God’s children yet each of us are different and unique? So too, God goes about pruning each of us in different ways.
Also, grapes bear fruit on the green shoots that come from one year old canes. If the vine is left unattended it can become unruly, fruit production will be poor, and there will be an overproduction of vegetation or leaves. The amount of pruning is dependent on the amount of vegetation produced during the previous growing season. If there is not a proper amount of fruit load (grape clusters) to store the carbohydrates produced in the leaves, a grapevine will over-compensate with an increase in foliage. If the appropriate number of clusters is left on a grapevine, there should not be a lot of excess foliage produced, thus producing a good crop of fruit.
John tells us that God is our master vine dresser and he prunes us so that we may bear more fruit. Fruit like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control. (Galatians 5:22) Is there an abundant amount of fruit in my life? Or an excess of foliage? Is there a good crop of Galatians fruit? Or is there an excess of the law or rules of Christianity which looks good on the outside, but no change in my heart? Either way, God’s gentle & skilled hand is pruning so that we will produce even more fruit.
A well-pruned vine is given maximum exposure to sunlight, air circulation & maintenance. These factors create an atmosphere that is less likely to harbor diseases or pests. So it takes a wise and experienced vine dresser to care for the vines in order to produce the best and largest amount of fruit with the least amount of disease or pests.
So too, we need to be given maximum exposure to God’s love & forgiveness, being maintained in his word and by his Holy Spirit so that we can produce the best kind of fruit.
The pruning guidelines on the Internet said that if the first year vine hasn’t grown above the first trellis wire during the previous year, then it needs to be cut back to just 3 buds and the previous year’s treatment is repeated. It says that this may sound drastic but necessary to establish a sound trunk. It also says that Grape vines are vigorous and forgiving.
We too must have a sound foundation of God’s word established in our hearts. Don’t be afraid of God’s pruning. He is the master vine dresser and he knows just what needs to be done to create in us a firm foundation where much fruit will be produced in the years to come. Let our hearts be vigorous and forgiving so that an abundant crop of love & joy & peace & patience will overflow to those around us, bringing glory to God, the keeper of our hearts.