“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 it so 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, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” – John 15:1-6; 8-10
Often in the Christian life, we are discouraged that we face difficulties and trials. Often we feel as though the Lord brings things across our path that slow down our growth or our joy that it found in Him. We desire to bear the fruit of righteousness, but before we have the opportunity to display that fruit are hearts are challenged through the strains and pressures of life. What we often fail to realize is that these challenges are hardships (whether they are significant or not) are actually the greatest means by which the Lord causes us to bear fruit.
Just as a tree bears fruit, so too does a Christian. The process does not happen overnight, but rather it takes many months. For a fruit-bearing tree, it takes many months of preparing the soil, fertilizing, watering, shading, supporting, protecting, and caring for the plant before it begins to have a plentiful harvest. It is much the same way in the Christian life. The Christian, bears fruit through the blessing of the Lord, the support of other saints, the protection from this evil worlds influence, the saturating in the Word of God, and the constant communion with God in prayer. All these things attribute to great growth and a great bearing of fruit.
But I want to remind you that all fruit is born not only with lights and streamers, not with joys and cheers, not through an easy and care-free walk with the Lord. Nor does a tree bear fruit only through water, sun, and fertilizer. Although we all will experience great times of blessing and refreshing from the Lord, the greatest way that the Lord allows us to bear fruit is by pruning. Pruning is the work of God our Father, the great vine-dresser, and He is the one who knows that through pruning we will have our greatest growth. Speaking of this pruning, James Montgomery Boice writes in his commentary on Philippians:
“Have you felt God doing this with you? He wants to, for your life has many things in it that are not bearing spiritual fruit. They may be hobbies, habits, relationships, aspects of your occupation. They may even be things that you consider so precious that you think you would die if they were removed. Yet they should be, and will work to do it. It is true of course, that not all hobbies, habits, or relationships require pruning. God may be using them now in marvelous ways. They are not all sinful; they may be what God wants you to do. Nevertheless, each of us holds to things that God will remove that we might serve Him better. “He who began a good work in you will carry it out to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (v. 6). The cutting may hurt. You may think that God is killing you. But the result will be good for you, for it will result in good works, done by Jesus Christ in you, to the glory and praise of God.”
What words of wisdom Boice shares with us here! And how true it is! God is at work in you dear saint, He is at work to mold you into the image of His Son. And He will use any means to bring that work to completion. There may be pain, hardships, and suffering, there may be a harsh and necessary pruning that the Lord is doing in your life. But be sure of this dear saint, the result of such a pruning will be your transformation into the image and glory of your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!