January 08, 2012

The Pain of Pruning

John 15:1-8

Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
John 15:2


As I did some research on pruning, I learned that gardeners prune fruit trees for basically two reasons. The first is to strengthen healthy branches. By removing unproductive parts of a fruit tree, more energy can be directed to the good branches, resulting in better fruit. The second reason for pruning is to allow for more air and sunlight to reach parts of the tree that would otherwise be inaccessible. This is especially important for the center of the tree, which can become wet and vulnerable to disease if no pruning is done.

We might think pruning involves only the removal of dead wood, but Jesus says his Father prunes the fruitful branches. It seems we are always eager to have God remove painful things from our lives. We pray that cancer will be taken away, and that God will eliminate relationship struggles, unemployment, or failing grades from our lives. But how willing are we to surrender good things to God’s pruning so that even more good will result?

Do we submit our talents, skills, and other gifts to the Lord so that he can refine them to great benefit in his kingdom—for his own sake, not ours? Pruning can hurt! But it will also allow more of the light of God’s glory and the wind of the Holy Spirit to regenerate our lives.

Lord, help me to hold nothing back when it comes to obeying your will. Give me the grace to submit to your pruning, so that more of your glory will fill my life. Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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