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.
(John 15:2, NIV)
Friend To Friend
Our hotel room had a small balcony that overlooked the swimming pool. Early one lazy vacation morning, I grabbed my journal, Bible, and a fresh cup of coffee then headed to the balcony for some quiet time.
As I settled in, movement by the pool caught my eye. I watched as a maintenance man approached a palm tree and briskly pulled a brown, life-less branch from underneath the green leaves. Oddly, before he pulled the dead branch off, I hadn’t even noticed it was there.
After he pulled it off, however, the palm tree looked fresh and vibrant.
The pruning made such a difference!
Jesus spoke to His disciples and 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. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 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 you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:1-8, NIV)
Whom we spend time with really matters. (Ahem… Jesus!)
And what we say and do and how we say and do it also really matters.
Stay with me here! Don’t let the familiarity of this Scripture fade the impact it has on you.
I understand to my core how horrible it feels when my walk and my talk do not line up. Withered branches in my heart constantly need to pulled off and thrown away. You too?
In order to experience the blessings and power of God’s Spirit in our lives we must root our faith deep in the soil of God’s Word and then allow His truth to produce fruits that are ripe with evidence of His love. These fruits are clearly seen (or not) at the intersection of our faith and our actions. I’ve found that when I have those I-just-want-to-scream-because-everyone-in-the-world-is-on-my-last-nerve days God meets me with His grace when I whisper His name.
God will deepen the roots and increase the fruits of your faith as you spend time talking to Him early in the morning over a hot mug of coffee. When you pray and worship on the way to work or on your powerwalk. When you feel a prick of conviction in your heart about that behavior – or about that response – that tone – that act of disobedience. When you call out to Him for patience and strength as your teenager slams his door in rebellion – or when your adult daughter “forgets the morals she was raised with” and moves in with her boyfriend – or when frustrations mount up at work.
Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self control. To bring glory to God, this fruit of His Spirit must be seen in our lives.
Unfortunately, we have a keen ability to rationalize our less-than-fruitful behaviors.
But he… But she… But they… I just can’t…
Fortunately, God doesn’t expect us to behave like this without Him. In fact, we simply can’t. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Remember? (v5) But when we remain in Him – when we seek Him, obey Him, savor His presence, live for His glory, and prioritize Him above all else – we can and will make a big impact for God and experience the joy and peace we all long for.
The maintenance man at the resort didn’t pull the branch off to hurt the palm tree. He pruned it to increase its beauty, health, and vibrancy. God does the same for us. He prunes His children to increase our beauty, health and vibrancy for our good and for His glory – to make us more useful to Him and more fruitful.
Pause to ponder this question: Are there any dead branches hanging on your tree?
Dear Lord, thank You for Your perfect love that enables me to be fruitful and beautiful. Please remove any lifeless branches in my life. As the psalmist prayed: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV).
In Jesus Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
How fruitful is your life? Read John 15:1-17 and spend some time reflecting on God’s plan for you to become more fruitful.
More From The Girlfriends
Have you listened to the GRACEOLOGIE with Gwen Smith podcast yet? Hang out with Gwen and friends when you commute to work, go on walks, exercise, run errands or travel. Podcasts are also perfect to listen to as you do household chores! (Laundry anyone?) Each GRACEOLOGIE with Gwen Smith podcast episode is filled with fun, faith-focused, grace-filled conversations that will help you know and trust God more.
These discussions are going to encourage you in meaningful ways to live out and lean on the GRACE of Jesus in the midst of cluttered, messy days. CLICK HERE to listen on iTunes, or visit GwenSmith.net/Graceologie for more information.