“He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.” – John 15:2 NLT
I love to garden. I picked it from my Grandma, and I can hardly pick up my garden tools without thinking of her. Some of my best memories of childhood involve her, with her vegetable garden, her flowers, and her grapevines. She made the absolute best grape jelly, too – move over Welchs and Smuckers! At the time, I didn’t really grasp the concept of pruning and digging and work that attended to all of this until a few years ago when our county extension agent showed me the necessity of pruning branches and vines to get a better crop. We had purchased a place with an old garden spot that included three apple trees. That first year I was too busy with other things to really look at the trees until the apples got ripe. There were bushels of fruit…. but they were all really small. (I made a lot of applesauce and apple butter!) I wanted to know how to get bigger apples because they were heirloom and delicious. The agent came out and looked and said, take out a third – a THIRD – of the branches this winter, and next year do the same.
That’s a LOT of pruning the branches!
Because of all the work, we were rewarded each fall with bigger and better fruit. JESUS does the same thing with us. When we neglect our LORD in favor of our own wants, He has to come in and prune back the branches we have sprouted. Things like self-absorption, refusing to follow His Will; ‘doing our own thing,’ putting anything above our relationship with Him, prevents us from growing properly. The fruit of our lives can become tiny and lose its sweetness, and it can become wormy, without His touch. It can hurt when the LORD has to come in and discipline our branches. I know!! The benefit of submitting to His pruning, cutting out the diseased parts and removing superfluous branches, is having a happier, more peaceful life. It allows for the fruits of the Spirit to shine forth. My life been like those old apple trees, unpruned and neglected because of my choices. GOD has done some serious pruning, and I have no doubt that there will be more! It may sound strange to some, but I am grateful that He loves me enough to want to prune my branches. It’s really very simple, and it boils down to this:
“Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so all will go well with you. Then you will enter and occupy the good land that the LORD swore to give your ancestors. For we will be counted as righteous when we obey all the Commands the LORD our GOD has given us.’ ” – Deuteronomy 6:18, 25 NLT
“If you love Me, obey My Commandments.” – John 14:15 NLT
What are His Commandments? Again, JESUS cuts right to the chase with His response.
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your GOD with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the First and Greatest Commandment. A Second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37-40 NLT
Listen to Hillary Scott and the Scott Family sing Thy Will, from the album Love Remains.