It is widely recognized that pruning results in more fruit in the tree or person being pruned.
So I ask you not to lose heart [not to faint or become despondent through fear]
at what I am suffering in your behalf. [Rather glory in it] for it is an honor to you.
For this reason [seeing the greatness of this plan by which you are built
together in Christ], I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I remember the first time I helped prune a tree. Disproportionate and stuffed into an alcove at the back of a home, you could hardly recognize what type of tree it was, let alone what might be growing in the bed beneath. I winced as large branches were cut off, sure that we were removing too much. But to my surprise, an overgrown corner soon transformed into a beautiful shade garden.
This week as I pruned our aspen trees, I thought of the familiar teaching in John 15: “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 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.” (v. 1-2)
It is widely recognized that pruning results in more fruit in the tree or person being pruned. But as my pile of aspen branches grew taller, I realized that the bushes and flowers beneath now had room to grow as well. Sunshine and water could now reach and nourish these smaller plants.
Here’s my thought:
Just as the low-hanging branches of my aspen trees hindered the growth of bushes and plants beneath, there may be things in our lives that hinder the growth of those living close to us. When our Father God prunes us back – by His Word, by His Spirit, by the circumstances and people He puts in our lives – it not only causes growth and fruit in us, but greatly affects the growth in those around us.
Sometimes we get so focused on ourselves. We zero in on how we feel or how every bump in the road affects us. But maybe the work God is doing in my life is just as much for those around me as for me. Maybe the thing He is removing to allow more fruit in my own life will open up space for others to grow as well.
This excites me! It speaks again of the greatness of our God. It reminds me that He is doing much more in each moment and circumstance than I can imagine, and all of it good.
Who sits in the shade of your life?
Who has God placed beside you to grow with your encouragement, teaching, and protection? Maybe it’s your children, your spouse, or a Bible study group. Maybe someone you mentor or work with. Maybe you pastor a church or lead a large ministry. None of us walks alone.
Paul recognized the honor of suffering for the growth of the Body of Christ. He desired more than anything to know Christ and be conformed into His image. This required a lot of pruning. But the joy of seeing those around him display the wisdom of God was worth every trial, every test, every branch cut back.
“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.
Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy,
for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News
about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you,
will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ returns.”
May we find great joy in our Father’s wisdom!
Learn more about the author, Amy Layne Litzelman
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