One of the things that I really enjoy is caring for plants. It’s amazing how much the care and maintenance of a plant has taught and continues to teach me about Biblical principles, and even sometimes the character and nature of God.
For example, the idea of “pruning” in the Bible is a concept I have always in the past struggled with. I always had visions of a mean God sitting up in heaven taking pleasure in causing pain. Now of course I realize how foolish that idea is as I have gotten to know God better; but many people still have that idea that God is a sadist.
A scripture that has given me trouble in the past is John
“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”
I used to see this scripture as a very cruel and harsh thing. The word “purge” is translated as “prune”, and I used to think that pruning was a very mean thing to do and very painful. Yet as I have come to understand pruning more clearly from my working with plants, I have come to see pruning as a necessary thing in order to ensure the continued health and growth of the recipient.
Many times now I have had to prune specific leaves and sometimes entire branches from the plant in order to keep it healthy. What’s even more interesting though is the time factor and waiting… This has taught me a great deal about my own behavior when God wants to prune something from my life.
There have been times when I could clearly see that a leaf on the plant was beginning to wither and needed to be pruned yet its connection to the branch was still strong and it was not ready to be gently removed. You see, I was taught that when pruning individual leaves the most gentle and safe method is to lightly grasp the leaf and pull slightly, and the affected leaf will almost fall away on its own. However in cases where the leaf is still strongly connected to the branch, the more traditional method of cutting the leaf away with scissors must be used.
This experience has opened my eyes to my own behavior. Sometimes the Lord wants to prune away things in my life that are not
beneficial to my spiritual growth; and He of course prefers to remove the thing using the most easy painless method as possible. Yet if I refuse to let it go and try to hold on to it, then the Lord may have to cut it away more sharply for my own good. This may hurt more, but just like my plant, if the withering leaf is left connected to the branch and not removed, it will begin to affect the surrounding leaves; hinder growth and eventually may kill the plant. And it’s exactly the same with things in my life.
God desires to prune us, not because He enjoys causing us pain, but actually so that we can live and thrive more fully. He prunes away the bad things for our benefit. Looking at the group of scriptures again with more understanding we see what John 15:1-5 states:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
Jesus is our Vine and God the Father is the husbandman
Now, so that there is no confusion, please understand that the phrase “takes away” used there, is the Greek airo, which means “to lift up from the ground”. The branch in question is still “in Him” — it did not suddenly get thrown away, and neither will we be thrown away based on our behaviors. Yet when we are down on the ground; when we are at our lowest point, God will always lift us up in Christ Jesus, and notice that He is the one that cleanses us. Not ourselves. He is the one that prunes away the garbage.
So my prayer for today is that when things are removed from
my life, that instead of getting angry I recognize that the Lord is simply pruning away the unnecessary for my own benefit. Thank you Lord for taking care of me beyond my own ability to see.