“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 15:2)
Scripture Reading – Philippians 2:12-18
Every branch receives attention from the Father, the vinedresser. When the machete is swung at the branch, certainly pain will be experienced. Some branches will be completely cut off and thrown away, because they have rejected Christ. Others will be pruned, because they have faith in Christ. Being pruned by the Father means experiencing some pain in order to grow. If we truly want more fruit in our lives, then we must surrender ourselves to the Father. Blessed are the believers who understand that the Father wants to prune their lives, so they can grow more into His likeness. By submitting to Him through this process, His work will be made perfect in your life. There’s no getting around it, to bear much fruit, you must be willing to be pruned. There’s no other way. To do this, your heart and your character will need to be constantly examined by the Word of God.
Something in my life that was not pleasing to God was my rebellious spirit. In college, God used several of my friends to expose that sin so it could be pruned from my life. We were serving the Lord together in Argentina. Our group went from town to town showing the Jesus Film in the town square. One afternoon, we were raising up the large screen for that evening’s showing. I climbed up the pole and unfurled the screen. Those on the ground said that the screen was high enough. Nevertheless I continued to climb, because I wanted to raise the screen up even higher. After the movie started, my three friends called me aside. We sat in a quiet place so we could talk. They asked, “Why do you like to rebel?” Immediately, I defended myself saying: “I am not rebellious.” My answer alone was enough to prove their point. I realized that I was indeed rebellious. The Lord made me recognize that I always thought I was the right one, and everyone else was wrong. Consequently, I wouldn’t follow instructions from others. That night, God began changing me. While I still have a tendency to rebel, praise God that I continue to be pruned by the Father.
It’s all about the fruit. That’s why our character needs to be continually pruned, so we will bear more fruit. This is a discipleship principle: A disciple continues to grow every day through the confession of sins. Jesus told Peter that he needed to be washed (John 13:10). Our sins need to be washed through confession, because they can prevent us from bearing fruit. Confession of sins is evidence that we are in Christ, because we are experiencing the active pruning process by our Father. Our failings teach us humility, so that we no longer feel as though we need to defend ourselves whenever the Spirit convicts us of sin in our lives. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23). Those who confess their sins will receive comfort.
Many people serve the Lord, because they want to be acknowledged by others. They want others to see how successful they are so they receive the praise of men. But this originates from an ungodly motive, because true fruit glorifies the Father and not us. Jesus taught, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). The leaves of our lives steal the glory due to God, because it puts the spotlight on us. Ask the Lord today to reveal the sin hiding in your heart. Don’t delay in confessing that sin to God. If you need to be reconciled with another, do so immediately. Remember, God’s mercy is new every morning. What needs to be pruned from your life so that you can bear fruit? Pride? Anger? Laziness?