I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. John 15
I just discovered that prune in verse 2 and clean in verse 3 are forms of the same word! Somehow to me it was a striking thought. You are already pruned. I don’t know if you have ever pruned a tree or vine, but it seems a little violent if you think about it. After all, you are actually cutting off pieces of a living thing. It can be a little unnerving to think that God’s version of “clean” involves cutting things away.
It’s not too difficult to cut off dead or diseased limbs, but sometimes pruning involves cutting off a branch that looks quite healthy. And THAT, my friends, is hard to do. Why would you ever cut off something that seems good and productive? Well, according to modernfarmer.com, you need to thin the branches to allow light and air into the canopy, and you don’t want multiple branches competing with one another.
A friend of mine had a couple of apple trees planted in her back yard and decided to consult with a local orchard owner on the best way to prune them in order to bear the most fruit. As she stood considering her trees, she realized that if she pruned them the way she had been instructed, that they would have a completely different shape. She eventually decided that the way they looked mattered more to her than their productivity, so she pruned them to make them pleasing to the eye.
God, however, doesn’t handle
things that way. God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Sam 16:7) When God prunes, He knows exactly what needs to be stripped away in order to bring us to full fruit-bearing. His pruning may not look the way we expect – we may not like the way it looks at all – but He knows the perfect cuts to make, which branches must go, so that the others can flourish as He intends. Even when a branch is bearing fruit, sometimes the tree as a whole is better off without it!
Sometimes those cuts hurt. The sap may run for a time before healing over, and you may think that it just doesn’t look right. But trust that God, the master gardener, knows exactly how to make you bear the very best fruit. His cuts are clean, and produce fruit for His glory!