Jesus talks about pruning. He says that God prunes his people in order to bear more fruit. Agricultural experts at Texas A&M say that pruning has four purposes: plant health and growth; increased fruit and flower production; safety of people and property; and appearances and aesthetics. Translated, what does this mean for us? Because it doesn't all sound appealing.
For whatever pruning entails, it must involve some level of discomfort. Cutting off a branch at its joint, figuratively or literally, equals a definite act of severance.
We can consider pruning in relational terms.
Some relationships simply take life and never offer it. They fail to build up either party. They're space-fillers. In the garden of Eden, when God gave Adam and Eve to one another, for something more than just "killing time". He offered life through relationships that met needs that instilled individuals with a sense of communion, purpose, joy and fulfillment.
God had in mind more than filling space. He intended to fill hearts.
Do all relationships involve some aspect of our heart? Or do some just exist in a vegetative state? Do we have the courage to consider that some relationships may have no momentum to go anywhere? Do we have the audacity to consider pruning those?
Some relationships are dead weight. They appear lifeless because, well, they are. Some people just don't want to be bothered with greater depth. Perhaps such relationships merit pruning. Do we really need more people in our lives with whom we have no real contact? Don't we need more from each other, and no more others? Thoreau said, "The question is not, 'Are we busy?' but, 'What are we busy about?" Are we busy going from one dead-end relationship to another? Or are we busy going deeper with a few people we actually know, who actually know us? Are we busy giving and receiving life, or just watching it pass by?
Does this mean the Spirit can't show up in places that appear untouchable? No. Does this mean that the Lord does not work in something that doesn't bear fruit right away? No. Some seasons are seemingly barren. But this does mean we need a little focus on our relationships, a little prayer about them. Are they a waste of time? Will they grow?
The outcome of such pruning, of such cutting in our life, if we're to listen to Jesus and the Aggies of A&M, is greater health and growth in our life. We can also expect greater production of fruit. Healthier relationships will certainly translate to lives that are safer for others. And the appearance of life, with greater focus, more simplicity, more growth, would possess more beauty.
It seems so counter-intuitive that to grow more, we must cut. To foster growth, we must facilitate a personal severing. Yet such is the way of growth-offering so much more but coming at a painful price first. Jesus and nature both teach us this, and neither apologizes for such teaching.
Jesus offers more in life. The offer of more life is on the table. The price involves sacrifice.
Are there relationships you need to prune?
How might your relationship to the Lord grow through such pruning?
How might you grow through such pruning?
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