Pruning

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. ~ John 15:16, Galatians 5:22-23

Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
~ Colossians 1:6 and 10, Philippians 1:11, John 15:8

He Who Holds the Pruning-Knife, by J. R. Miller. This is from his work, “Looking at the Right Side” in 1888.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. . . . He prunes every branch that produces fruit–so that it will produce more fruit.” John 15:1-2

Our Father is the gardener; we are branches under His care. He watches over our lives. The painful afflictions which cut into our very souls, the taking from us of objects that are dear to us, as when the gardener with his sharp knife removes luxuriant branches from the vine–are our Father’s prunings. No hand but His–ever holds the knife. We are sure, then, that there is never any careless cutting, any unwise or mistaken pruning, any needless removing of rich branches or growths.

We really need to go no farther than this. A strong, abiding confidence that all the trials, sorrows and losses of our lives–are parts of our Father’s prunings–ought to silence every question, quiet every fear and give peace and restful assurance to our hearts, in all their pain. We cannot know the reason for the painful strokes–but we know that He who holds the pruning-knife is our Father. That is all we need to know.

The other thought in the Lord’s parable, is scarcely less full of comfort to a Christian. Jesus says, that it is the fruitful branches which the Father prunes: “He prunes every branch that produces fruit–so that it will produce more fruit.”

Afflictions are not, then, a mark of God’s anger or disapproval; rather, they are a mark of His favour. The branches into which He cuts, from which he trims away the luxuriant growths–are fruit-bearing already. He does not prune the fruitless branches–He cuts them off altogether as useless, as mere cumberers, absorbing life and yielding nothing of blessing or good.

Some Christians have the impression that their many troubles indicate that God does not love them–that they cannot be true Christians, or they would not be so chastened. This teaching of Christ shows how mistaken they are. The much chastening shows that the Father is pruning His fruitful branch–to make it more fruitful. All whom the Father loves–He chastens.

It is the fruitless branch that is never pruned; the fruitful branch is pruned, and pruned–not by one without skill, not by an enemy–but by the wise Father. Thus we see how we may rejoice–even in our trials and afflictions.

One who was altogether ignorant of the art and purpose of pruning, who should see a man with a sharp knife cutting off branch after branch of a luxuriant vine, would at first suppose that the pruner was ruining the vine. So at the time it seems–but by and by, it appears that the prunings have made the vine more fruitful. In the season of vintage, the grapes are more luscious, with a richer flavour in them–because of the cutting away of the superfluous branches.

In like manner, if an angel who had never witnessed anything of human suffering, and who knew nothing of its object, were to see the Father causing pain and affliction to His children, it would seem to him that these experiences could be only destructive of happiness and blessing; but if the angel were to follow those chastened lives on to the end, he would see untold blessing coming out of the chastenings. The Father was but pruning the branches–that they might bear more and better fruit.

We should never lose sight of the divine purpose in all trials–to make our lives more fruitful.

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.
~ John 15:1-2

“And our Saviour tells us how his Father deals with every branch in him that beareth fruit, every true and living branch. “He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit,” John xv. 2. He prunes it, and that not for a day or two, but whilst it is a branch in this world. And the apostle tells you what was his practice, 1 Cor. ix. 27, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” “I do it,” saith he, “daily; it is the work of my life: I omit it not; this is my business.”” This quote is from John Owen’s Mortification of Sin in Believers.

The Lord Christ said in Mark 9:43, 45 and 47 — and if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

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