New Wine - Day 16

The Vineyard

John 15:3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

So the pruning did not take the branch away, rather, it purified it and made it able to produce good fruit. If you are like me, for many years I found this text problematic due to the idea that the Gardener would throw away a branch that wasn’t producing fruit. I have done this many times with the fruit trees that I have in our backyard. We trim that which does not bear fruit, and then we throw away the other branches. 

However, there are five rules to pruning that might be helfpul to us both for our trees and our hearts. 

  1. Know when to prune. There are certain times that you should prune. Prune too early, and you will lose fruit you might have had. Prune too late, and you will also lose fruit on certain branches. The good news is that we are not the one’s doing the pruning, rather, our Good Father is the one who will be doing the pruning. 

2. Know where to cut. It seems easy to see where a branch is connected and just cut there. But if you do that, there is no chance of reclaiming the branch with new growth. You should always cut just below where the branch is dying, has died, or is diseased. Instead of simply assuming this branch is lost, see if something is worth saving. 
In our lives, oftentimes, we feel like we are dying or diseased. However, the Good Gardener knows exactly where to cut so that your branch can produce good fruit again. 

3. Remove problematic branches first. Some branches are just waiting for a new environment to be able to thrive. By removing the problematic branches first, the Gardener creates a better environment for other branches to thrive. 
There are times when certain people leave our faith communities. While we are never happy about that, there are times when they should leave to be able to grow in another vineyard. Usually, as they leave, by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we also see some of the branches they were close to in our community begin to grow in a different way then they had grown before. This means that the previous branches were part of creating an environment where not everyone could grow. We don’t like having people move on from our communities, but we do love them finding a place they can thrive spiritually. 

4. Thin out dense growth. Shrubs or trees maintain their health when they see the sun. When the outer part of the tree becomes too dense, the inner parts cannot see the sun and essentially die inside. This same thing can be said of the church and our personal spiritual lives. When we create a density in the outermost parts of our lives then we often die a bit inside. We need to thin out dense growth that crowds out the sun and its nutrients. 

5. Prune regularly. If we constantly allow God to prune us in the ways that we need to be maintained, we then see the possibility of what it means to live in the vineyard with God and to be deeply and vitally connected to the source of all life, that branch were we find our sustenance, Jesus Christ.

  1. When was the last time you felt you were being pruned positively by God? (I know that sounds weird; go with it!)
  2. How can you allow God to do the work on your heart so you will maintain the ability to see the sun and grow from its nutrients? 
  3. Are you clear that you are not the one who does the pruning; rather, it is God who does that work in us? 

By Pastor Timothy Gillespie

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