Are You Being Pruned?
“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 bears fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit." John 15:1-2 Sometimes we are bewildered at the pain, trauma, and frustrations that take place in our lives - but in the Kingdom of God, pain is gain. The Lord tells us that IF we are bearing fruit, THEN he prunes us. The converse is also true: one who does not bear fruit withers. Why? Because to abide in Christ IS to bear fruit, and if one doesn't bear fruit then he is not abiding in Christ. It's important to understand what the Lord means when he says "fruit." And it's crucial to understand this because "fruit" is not the good that we do. Even evil persons who hate Christ can do good things. I asked the Lord once what the difference is between works of wood, hay and stubble, versus works of gold, silver, and precious stone (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). He brought me back to the few times in my life when I succeeded in bringing souls to him, and asked me to look closely to see what the common element was in each of those stories. So I sat back and deeply considered it - and I came to realize that the common element in each of these stories was that I did not initiate any one of them. I looked at each story one by one and it became clear that there wasn't one that came about by my doing. Those are the works of gold, silver, and precious stones - the works that the Lord himself initiates. All other "good" works are works of wood, hay and stubble, because they were initiated by ourselves. This is not to say we shouldn't be zealous to do good works, I'm not saying that at all. The Word of God is clear on that. But - those works originating in ourselves are the fruit of ourselves, and God is looking for the better fruit. This should be made a regular part of our prayer life, praying for sensitivity to the Lord concerning our works. vs 4: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, NEITHER CAN YOU, unless you abide in me." The good works done by people who are not abiding in Christ may be wonderful works, but they are not the "fruit" he is talking about because only what comes from abiding in him is true "fruit." We cannot of ourselves bring forth fruit of eternal value because without him we can do nothing. vs 5: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without me YOU CAN DO NOTHING." Outside of abiding in Jesus Christ, one can do nothing of eternal value. The works of gold, silver, and precious stone are fruit that will last forever. By such works people are saved, and that is a fruit that lasts forever. By such works people are brought to repentance, and that is fruit that lasts forever. By such works people who do not know the Lord come to know him and grow in the knowledge of him, and that is fruit that will last forever - but those works have to originate IN HIM. Jesus demonstrated this when he was informed that his close friend Lazarus was sick. The family expected Jesus to come and heal him, but when he heard that Lazarus was sick, Jesus deliberately waited around for 4 days. Why? How could anyone argue that going to heal Lazarus immediately would have been anything but a good work? Yet Jesus didn't go. Why? Because he was waiting for the circumstances to be just right. He was waiting on the Father to tell him when to go. If he had gone when everyone expected he should, it would have been a work of wood, hay and stubble. But by waiting on the Father, the work resulted in the salvation of many people, a fruit that will last forever. So if you've been doing good but find you're being "pruned," do not mistake it as though God were angry at you. He isn't. He knows the tree has to be pruned to bring forth the best fruit. Don't resist it. The cuts and snips hurt. But by being pruned we are brought to be more able to let the life of the vine flow through us and produce more fruit than ever before. "...and every branch that bears fruit he prunes... THAT it may bear more fruit." God's not angry with you. In fact, pruning means he's pleased with you.