“Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
Yesterday we learned that the fate of the fruitless branches is that God the Father will eventually cut them off. He will remove all vestiges of their hypocrisy from the vine. He will reveal them for what they are, and punish them in hell for their sins (see v 6). But what of the fruitful branches? What is their fate?
The fate of the fruitful branches is to bear yet more fruit, and the process by which they will bear more fruit is called pruning. Consider this definition of pruning from the Department of Horticulture at Texas A & M*:
"Pruning, like any other skill, requires knowing what you are doing to achieve success [Praise God that he knows what he’s doing!]…Remember that pruning is the removal or reduction of certain plant parts that are not required, that are no longer effective, or that are of no use to the plant. It is done to supply additional energy for the development of flowers, fruits, and limbs that remain on the plant."
In other words, pruning is done that plants or trees might bear more fruit.
The truth of the matter is that, even for those who are rightly connected to the vine, much remains in us that must be cut away. And because of his great mercy and love toward us, the Father is willing to do whatever he must to in fact cut these things away. He uses as his pruning shears discipline, various sorts of tests and trials, suffering, the Word of God, the Body of Christ, and whatever else he deems necessary and appropriate to prepare us to bear more fruit (see Hebrews 12:3-11, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 4:12-19, 2 Timothy 3:15-17, Romans 12:1-2). Such is the steadfast love of the Father: he will go to any lengths to bring us into the fullness of what he’s prepared for those who believe in Christ and cling to him with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Thus, the short-term fate of the fruitful is to suffer what we must in order to bear more fruit to the glory of Christ. And the long-term fate of the fruitful is to forever be united with Christ and delight ourselves in the ever-increasing joy of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Any pain we must suffer in the process of pruning will be well worth this eternal prize!
Prayer Focus: Pray that during these forty days (and beyond) God will do whatever he must to prune us that we might bear more fruit to the glory of his name. Pray that he will give us eyes to see his grace in the midst of the pruning, and hearts that will not rebel against his wise work in us.