“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” John 15:1–4
Nurturing a plant so that it can grow the optimum quantity and quality of fruit is a delicate process for the gardener. Left on its own most plants will produce far too many leaf bearing branches. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good for a plant to have leaves. Leaves contain chlorophyll which the plant uses, in the process called photosynthesis, to make food for itself from carbon dioxide, water, other nutrients and sunlight. However, most plants seem to be programmed to grow far more leaves than they actually need and this over production of leaves robs the pant of the ability to produces the best possible harvest of fruit.
For the gardener, the leaves of the plant are a means to an end. For the gardener the entire purpose of the plant is the production of fruit; they want the plant to have enough leaves to feed itself but only the right amount to grow the best fruit it can in the highest quantity it can.
So what does the gardener do to combat the plants drive to grow more leaves than it needs? He prunes it. That means he goes through and cuts off the unfruitful and unnecessary parts of the plant so that those parts don’t rob resources from the plant in the fulfilling of its purpose, the bearing of fruit.
The process of pruning isn’t a welcome process to the plant. It’s reaction to having been pruned is the same as it’s reaction would have been if it had been injured, because that’s what it perceives has happened. Plants aren’t conscious entities like animals and people are they can’t define the difference between a cut and an incision. They don’t know that they’ve been benefited by the removal of the excess foliage.
Often when God steps in to remove things from our lives that interfere with our being as fruitful as we ought to be we’re as prone to perceiving it as an injury as a plant is. There are a lot of things that we can have in our lives that, individually, in and of themselves, there’s nothing wrong with except for the fact that those things interfere with our bearing all the fruit God intends for us to bear.
What is the fruit of the Christian? Our fruit is our witness. That’s what God’s called all of us to be for him. We are his witnesses. We’re also other things: husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, doctors, lawyers, businessmen, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, teachers, preachers, farmers, etc. But we’re all these things so that we can uniquely be the witnesses God’s called us to be, right now, where we are. We need to be careful that those parts of our lives necessary to provide the necessities of life don’t become so much that they interfere with our fulfilling the purpose of our lives.
We also need to be careful to not allow entertainment, possessions, and other pleasures to eclipse or interfere with our being witnesses for Jesus.
Like every gardener knows, it’s all about balance. The right balance of leaves and stem enables to plant to produce the optimal harvest.
Lord, balance my life. Give me just the right amount of life’s responsibilities, pleasures and possessions to be all the witness for you you need me to be.