In John 15, Jesus provides a metaphor: He is the true vine, his heavenly Father is the gardener, and we are the branches.
As the branches we are to “bear fruit.” This means that our lives are to show evidence of our faithfulness and discipleship.
In verse 2 he says this: “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
That’s right. When we show evidence of our faithfulness and discipleship God will “prune” us. That doesn’t sound very pleasant, especially in light of what we read in the Bible about hardship—that it often serves to refine us and make us wiser and more resilient for God’s work in the world. The result is good but the process can be painful.
Notice how God’s pruning will enable us to “bear more fruit.” At this point it is helpful to remember that pruning and refining is an act of loving care. On this point, the great preacher Charles Spurgeon said: “If we may produce more fruit for our Lord, then we will not mind the pruning…”*
That’s a great perspective. It might be a tough one to adopt (!), but it’s certainly something to shoot for. If being refined and “pruned” as disciples will help us bear more fruit for Jesus, then we can face it with greater peace and purpose because God can and will use it for his good.
Life is tough. That fact becomes clearer year by year. But what if your pruning and refining was what led someone in your family to finally put their trust in Jesus? What if your pruning and refining was what led you to start a new mission project that would bless people in your community? What if your pruning and refining was what enabled you to have the strength and wisdom to be there for someone in their desperate hour of need?
Jesus said: “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
Think of the fruit. Think of the people you love. Think of all the potential. “If we may produce more fruit for our Lord,” said Spurgeon,” then we will not mind the pruning…”
–From his sermon “The Promises of God” as quoted in: Church History Study Bible (Wheaton: Crossway, 2023), 1605.
–Bible quotes are from the NIV.