Faith Baptist Church
4258 Botetourt Road
Fincastle, Virginia 24090
Getting ahead is a familiar term to all of us. We work hard at becoming better at what we do with the hopes of “getting ahead”. Sometimes our hard work pays off and we and our family reap the benefits. Sometimes we aren’t quite ready, but we do not know it until we are reminded, or when we are turned down for someone who is more qualified. This is life and we just have to keep working at doing better at what we are pursuing.
In the Christian life we should also like to get ahead, not of someone else, but ahead of our spiritual inadequacies so we can better know the Lord and be more fruitful for his glory.
Jesus Christ reminds us in John 15:1- 8 that he is the true Vine and we are the branches that abide in him. Israel as per Isa. 5:1-7 is the branch that was taken away because of her unbelief, but now the church would be Christ’ branches. And the Lord of this vineyard, Jesus Christ, sees the church as his branches. The Vine gives life to the branches for one purpose; to bear his fruit; and the husbandman as per Jn. 15:1 is the Father. The Father prunes the branches as he sees fit that the branches may bear more fruit.
What does it mean to be pruned? Does it mean we are failures or we have done something wrong that requires us to be pruned? Pruning means to be cut back. This goes against everything we consider when trying to get ahead. So why does the Divine Husbandman, the Divine Vinedresser prune us back?
Let us look at six reasons why he prunes the branches [believers in Christ which are abiding in the Vine, Jesus Christ].
Please remember for those of us who are his branches; let it be known that the Vine which we abide in will never die unlike an earthly vine that dies. We who are his branches rely solely on the Vine to survive but he does not rely on us to survive. When the Father is pruning us, whether it be by discipline or by doctrine all we can do is take it. We cannot move from the Divine vinedresser’s hand. There is no need for one branch to look over at the other branch that is being pruned, and try to judge that branch not knowing why God is pruning them, for their time of pruning will also come.
1. Pruning removes dead and diseased branches that rob the plant of its beauty and shape. Diseased or dead branches are unsightly and keep the rest of the plant unhealthy as well.
Application: Sometimes we stop looking like a Christian or a biblical church because we have forgotten to keep the word of God as our guide in life. The church needs to stay in shape spiritually by agreeing with the Vine in doctrine and in sanctification. Persecution is one way the Father prunes his vineyard to clear out the clutter that hides his glory.
2. Pruning promotes growth within itself as well as the newer plants that abide close to these pruned plants. An overgrown plant makes it difficult for itself as well as younger plants to flourish. Overgrown plants block out the sun’s nourishment.
Application: Sometimes we forget about God’s plans for younger believers so God has to move us to the side, or trim us back so they too can flourish. God is never dependant on any one believer in a local church. This doesn’t mean God loves those of us who have been saved longer any less, it means he loves all of us equally. We all have room for growth, Phil. 3:10-14.
3. Pruning often brings a dying plant back to life and restores healthy growth.
Application: Ps. 119:75 “I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.” David learned obedience and trust in the Lord when he was afflicted just as Jeremiah would, Jer. 16:19.
4. Pruning reduces the risk of accidents as overgrown plants can become a liability in that the overgrowth and or dead and diseased branches may fall on someone or obstruct ones view of traffic.
Application: We are never to hog the spotlight, or desire to be the center of attention in any context regarding Christianity; that honor goes to God. When we forget our place God has his ways of correcting the situation. As it is in business and government, and the church; those in the highest places of authority must be reminded from time to time that they too are under a higher authority.
5. Pruning can save a homeowner money so that you do not need to call in expensive professional assistance later on when your trees or shrubs have grown to a size which you cannot handle.
Application: Paul told Timothy to take heed unto the doctrine and continue in it and by doing so not only he but those who heard those words would have their spiritual testimony and spiritual vitality preserved, I Tim. 4:16. James 1:21 gives the same teaching. Weekly maintenance in the word of God as commanded in Heb. 10:25 affords the believer access to God’s teachers who help guide his flock. This regular guidance, provided it is followed, keeps the believer from making shipwreck of the faith. Instructions in the word of God and adhering to that word helps us handle our little problems on a weekly basis, and this prevents most of the big problems from occurring in our lives. When our problems are not rightly managed on a consistent basis our nature is to gradually overlook those problems. When this process occurs we then become calloused to the existence of those problems until they eventually catch up with us. It is always better to accept God’s solution to fix a single problem than to let that single problem bloom into a full blown disaster.
6. Pruning adds curb appeal to ones property. Dead or overgrown branches and twigs clog up the beauty of your plants and shows others that you may be careless in taking care of the rest of your house.
Application: Heb. 12:1b… “let us lay aside every weight and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” When we are cumbered about with too many duties and obligations in life, including church work, God has to slow us down before we overlook the sins that can so easily get us off course and out of fellowship with our heavenly Father.
Pruning is obviously for our own good. It lets us know we are loved and it prepares us for bringing greater glory to God.
“I will praise thee; for thou hast heard me, and art become by salvation.”