Prune or Chop Down

Being Pruned Is Better Than Being Chopped Down

Those who raise grapes know that grapevines need yearly pruning; otherwise, the grapes will be smaller and less plentiful. Jesus speaks of our need to be pruned so we can bear more fruit. Here are His words, “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. (John 15:2)

The heatwave in June here in BC was so extreme that it killed three-quarters of my garden. Those dead plants need to be pulled out by the roots. For me, it is sad but not as critical as for the farmers here in the valley losing their crops of raspberries, broccoli, and cauliflower to the deadly heat. What is far more grievous is that over 700 deaths have been attributed to the heatwave in our province. Seven hundred plus lives were snuffed out by unprecedented hot weather that came upon us.

There is a belief that bad things should not happen to us. Yet, trouble, loss, suffering, and death can happen anytime to any one of us. Jesus’ disciples reflected the view that a sudden deadly accident, like the collapse of a tower, was a punishment because of the sinfulness of those killed. Jesus made it clear that those who die in an accident or a violent crime are not any more guilty of sin than those living. Jesus told his followers that everyone needs to repent or risk being cut off like a dead branch. (Luke 13:1-9)

Pruning can mean both cutting off the dead branch and cutting back the living branch. God’s word prunes our minds and hearts so that we recognize our need to repent. Because like Goliath, the giant warrior of the Bible, we also can be too sure of ourselves, arrogant, and dismissive of the little enemy that threaten our faith. Sometimes we sink in doubt and fear like Peter when he walked on water because we focus on the storm instead of Jesus. Sadly, we may wander off like lost sheep from the care of God.

God’s words remind us that Jesus is the vine and that our growth and ability to bear fruit have to do with repenting our arrogance, doubt, fear, and desire to wander off from God, our good Shepherd. God has planted us with faith in His Son that in Jesus we may bear fruit.

Jesus is the vine, and we need pruning so we can produce a crop. One might say God’s word is the vine of sunshine, life, moisture, and plant food to which we must be connected as a branch. Jesus speaks of it this way (paraphrase of Luke 13:6-9). A vineyard owner came to collect figs from a fig tree he had the gardener plant three years earlier. After three years, the owner grew impatient because the tree had no figs. He told the gardener to cut the fig tree down. The gardener asked for one more year for the tree to fertilize it and dig the soil about it. They agreed if it didn’t bear fruit, it would be chopped down after a year.

Jesus came, “To call sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:3) Repentance prunes us.

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