Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pruning For Fruit Hurt So Good!

Jesus said...
"I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful... Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you. This is my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other."

- John 15:1-16

Last week I pruned my berry bushes/vines.
This week I started a study on The Fruit of the Spirit - Cultivating Christlike Character by Stuart Briscoe.


A popular metaphor about life is describing it in seasons.
I find it interesting that Fall (Fall Harvest) is followed by Winter (no fruit. Everything dies.)
Then comes Spring (life returns/hope) and Summer (Joy! I mean really, what's not to love about Summer?)

It's really not that interesting unless you apply it to the word.
In this case, John 15:2 which says, "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."

From Fall (Harvest---> fruit) to Winter (Death--->prune) to Spring (Even more fruit)
And for the fruitless ones... it really doesn't matter what season it is because, well, they're dead.

This makes sense to me as a gardener.
When growing veggies or fruit, I want to encourage the plant so that it will produce as much fruit as it possibly can. I don't want enough for just a snack... I want to eat a snack, bake a pie, then a cobbler, and possibly try my hand at canning goods... also, I want to share the fruit! So, more is more!!

To do this I know I have to cut back the branches (more like sticks) that are dead. What good are they? 
And I recently found out from my Dad that you prune back the branches that bore fruit so that they will produce again.


My Life Application:

I want to be the best I can be. Cliche? Maybe. Army Slogan? Sure. But it's true.
Who wants to be average?
As humans, we always want more.

I have hit a milestone in my walk with Christ and am coming to the realization that dying to self means living for others... but actually making "living" a verb by putting it into action, not just a thought that I agree with.

Throughout the Bible the reoccurring theme is LOVE. If I take away nothing else from what it has taught me, I hope this rings true in my life:
Love Jesus and Love Others.

Nothing is more heroic or romantic than the idea of this:
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
- John 15:12

It's a tall order. As so is this, 
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
-Matthew 22:27-40

Pretty straight forward, from the lips of Jesus.

I think most of us can see how laying down a life for another is heroic, romantic, beautiful...
but loving your neighbor as yourself?
Sometimes wouldn't you rather die?

I openly admit it doesn't feel so "romantic" or fantasy-like in practice.
Sometimes I think, "Really God? You want me to love on that person?"

Think about the most difficult person to love. 
You know the type.
They are inconsiderate, breathtakingly rude, mean, looking for ways to jab at you, demanding, closed minded, or maybe they don't even acknowledge you..."

Really? You want me to love that "neighbor"?

But then I think...
I've been that person.
If not to others, to God... and He died for me.


God wants you to love them.
He calls you to it.

The bible describes love as "patient, kind, not envious or boastful or proud. It is not rude, self-seeking, easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preservers. Love never fails."
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

It is everything good.
Love is fruitful.

Love is a fruit of the Spirit.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires."
- Galatians 5:22-23

Contrary to the Fruit of the Spirit, the "fruits" of Human Nature are,
"sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like..."
- Galatians 5:20-21

Looking at it that way, if you ask me outright, I would rather have the fruit of the Spirit than those of Human Nature. 

Joy, peace, and kindness vs. hatred, jealousy, and fits of rage?.... I can see where that would be a toughfy!
Then why is it so hard?

The truth is, sin is not only temping, it can be fun too! 
And not all of us are willing to let go of it.
No one becomes an addict because they volunteered to be in chains... 
"...but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire {human nature!}, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth the sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."
-James 1:14-15

Birth to death? That's deep... and deeply sad.
How many of us would voluntarily give birth to death?
How many of us do?
How many times do we start habits or make choices knowing that it will ultimately lead to "death" or something fruitless/selfish/unloving?

Now that's where it gets tough... impossible, really!
Impossible if it were only up to us... if we had to "save ourselves" from our selfish selves.

And that is where we need the vine.
Apart from it, we die... but if we live in Him, we bear fruit.
Because when we live in Him, we live to love and love others... not ourselves.

And when we put others before ourselves, that's true love.

It's not easy, but it's fruitful.
It's uncomfortable and countercultural, but it's the fruit that lasts.

It's a choice.
And I choose to prune!

It's painful (dying to self ain't always fun) but it's good, 
and there's a peace that comes with it that is undeniable. 

Sometimes it's not a choice and the pruning comes to me (that's always fun).
The rug gets pulled out from underneath you and you get (rug) burned (and the wind knocked out of ya).
Change of direction...change of season...
But even then, there is still a choice.
You can choose life or death... and if you choose life, to be Christ-like, there will always be fruit
That is the promise given to us by the grace of God.
Oh how amazing it is!


Oh, also to add to the "more is more" idea with bearing good fruit... I'd like to add the clip they used at the beginning of Brad's sermon this past Sunday at our church.
It's an interview of Tom Brady. 
Brady is searching for the "more" out there (even after accomplishing so much)... check it out.
The sermon kicked butt too! Tune in for the rest!!

It's Part 11 in "The Best Life Ever" series.

No comments:

Post a Comment