In the early morning, just as the sun begins to brighten the sky, a man moves silently and methodically through a vineyard. He has work to do and does it with determination and precision. He pauses to sharpen a pruning knife because he knows he will be most effective if his knife is sharp. He works skillfully, reaching first here, then there, slashing branches free from the vine. Occasionally he will even slice through a cluster of grapes, dropping them on the ground as useless. When he has finished with that particular vine, he moves on, leaving behind a stump where a branch used to be.
The man above is a vinedresser, and the Bible describes God as a vine dresser in the vineyard. Of course, the vineyard represents His people and us, Christians. The vinedresser’s job is to prune the vines. So with purpose and intention, the vinedresser walks through the vineyard as an artist — the focus is the vine and the fruit.
“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 15:1–8, NKJV)
Our heavenly Father knows that a lush vine with little fruit has little value in the vineyard. Beauty is not the purpose of a vine. Vines are created to produce quality fruit. God also doesn’t create vines for all show and no tell; his purpose is for every vine to bear the highest quality fruit possible.
When the vinedresser goes through his vineyard with his pruning knife, he has a distinct purpose — to cut away everything that steals nourishment from the overall vine. Every vine needs pruning because every vine is created to produce fruit.
Pruning brings order
The pruning process guides the vine to its intended end. The vine dresser removes the fluff to add health to the remaining portion of the vine. God prunes the vine to guide the growth and the direction of the vine.
Pruning is never about comfort. Even the fruitful branches are pruned. It is also often hard to understand why God does this. Although the fruitless branches are removed from the vine and burned, the Father tenderly cares for the fruit-bearing branches. The vinedresser prunes the branches so they will bear much fruit. Why? Because the most luscious fruit grows on a pruned vine.
Without pruning, the believer will produce only limited fruit. Less of me means more of God. The pruning process at the hand of the vinedresser is proof that God has more for us. Pruning is proof that good must be removed for the better. Therefore, we understand that pruning is necessary for the vine and the Christian.
The Father carefully removes everything to maximize fruitfulness. Pruning the vine is necessary throughout every season — pruning is the process that transforms us from fruit to more fruit, too much fruit.
Jesus said; “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” (John 15:2, NKJV)
So we are pruned if we bear fruit and pruned if we don’t. The vinedresser knows that every vine has suckers, and the suckers are perfectly branded — they suck the life from the vine. Christians also have suckers — worry, anxiety, fear, doubt, insecurity, etc. The suckers on the vine steal the nourishment from the branch. The pruning process produces fruit, more fruit, and then much fruit. This is the connection between spiritual growth and bearing spiritual fruit, and they are synonymous.
God also looks at our life as a vine. Just like the vine, our heavenly Father has a purpose for our lives. And precisely like a vine, we are to produce fruit that remains. This is why pruning is necessary. Our Father removes the portions that hinder our complete nourishment.
Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me, you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers; the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this, my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:4–8, ESV)
Jesus is our vine, and we are the branches. The fruit sprouts from the branches. There is no such thing as a fruitless Christian, and Jesus desires for every Christian to bear fruit. The branches cannot bear fruit without a connection to the vine and believers cannot bear fruit without a connection with Jesus.
That hurts, but it’s true.
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