I’m going out on a limb to declare that we ALL want to bear fruit. We all want our life to matter for something bigger than ourselves. We want to make a difference and we want to live a joy-filled life.
Jesus shows us how to get there, but there is a price…though not as high as doing nothing. The shears come out either way.
If we are not bearing fruit, we will ultimately get cut off the vine completely, left to wither, dry up, and die. But even when we are bearing fruit, the shears come out. This time for the purpose of pruning…SO THAT more fruit may be produced. No matter the size of the harvest, there is always opportunity for more fruit.
No one escapes the touch of the shears, but the outcome is vastly different.
Pruning takes on different forms depending on what we need in our fruit-bearing journey. I’m not sure what your pruning looks like, but pruning for me right now looks like facing and changing a few things I have been fighting for a while. I'm tired of the fighting. I'm ready to surrender (I think...I hope...). I wrote yesterday that “change requires change.” Bearing fruit requires abiding in God. And abiding in God during the pruning looks a lot like obedience…it isn’t simply wanting to bear fruit, it isn’t working your butt off, it isn’t thinking a lot about it or coming up with an awesome plan, it isn’t willing it to happen…it is OBEYING. I deeply desire to bear more fruit. I hope one day to share about my pruning and my newly trimmed branch full of fruit, but for now it is between God and me. I don’t have the best track record and I want to see some progress before I am ready to share, but I’m privately writing about it in the hopes that I can at some point. Erdman says, “genuine conversion is not measured by the hasty decision but by long-range fruitfulness.”
Pruning, even with the promise of a beautiful outcome, is just plain hard.
If God is speaking something to you and you want to bear fruit for His glory, DO WHAT HE SAYS! Sorry, was I yelling? That was directed at me.
The alternative is never experiencing the fullness of joy He promises. It is remaining in just-okay-limbo-land…or worse. Carson says, "No one is more miserable than the Christian who for a time hedges in his obedience. He does not love sin enough to enjoy its pleasures, and does not love Christ enough to relish holiness. He perceives that his rebellion is iniquitous, but obedience seems distasteful. He does not feel at home any longer in the world, but his memory of his past associations and the tantalizing lyrics of his old music prevent him from singing with the saints. He is a man most to be pitied; and he cannot forever remain ambivalent. " (Carson)
Here's some good news: If we commit to the abiding in Him, in His Word, in His commandments, He promises to give us what we ask and need to stay there, to withstand the pruning, and to come out stronger and more fruitful on the other side.
Where are you today? Do you feel cut off? Are you in the middle of a beautiful harvest after a season of pruning (praise God!)? Are you in the midst of the pruning? Are things such a mess you don’t even know where you are? Wherever you are, I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I know one thing for sure: we need to ABIDE in Him. Commit to quiet time. Dig in His word. When He speaks, to listen and obey…no matter how hard…trust He will be there to help as He promises. Don’t just believe Him; believe IN Him…that He is good, that He is who He says and can do what He says He can do, that we are who He says we are, that He has our back, that He keeps His promises. Let Him love us through each season.
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11). Who’s ready for some FULL JOY? I’m praying along with you, no matter where you find yourself on the vine today.
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