In the New Testament, Jesus makes some really neat analogies about Christians being like plants; they wither away when not taken care of and grow plentifully when given the right attention and care. Gardening is a meticulous process and often requires the gardener to prune his plants in order for them to flourish. The idea of pruning is very applicable to the Christian life. The growth that occurs in the plant after it is pruned reflects the growth of every Christian who has decided to let Jesus be his or her gardener.
A gardener knows he must prune his plants if he wants them to grow healthily and produce fruit. John 15:2 talks about how the gardener cuts away what is not necessary so that the plant can become more fruitful. Similarly, in Isaiah 18:5, the gardener (God) prepares his plants for harvest by removing branches that no longer produce fruit so that the energy in the plant will be redirected to those which are fruitful.
As we grow in our faith, God will continue to prune and cut away things in our life that do not reflect him. For example, God may call us to leave toxic friendships or give us a multitude of situations in one season where we have to trust Him with our money. We may experience a hard season where God is pruning our impatience to make us more restful in Him. Christian pruning can involve any hard situations or seasons where God is growing you to look more like Christ.
This process is often painful and uncomfortable. However, the end result is amazing. God prunes us so that we will look more like Him. By cutting things out of our life that don’t reflect Christ, God gives us the opportunity to redirect our energy to growing in His attributes and producing Christian fruit like peace, love, kindness, gentleness, joy, and more.
Though pruning seasons are hard, they are essential for us to grow in Christ. Like humans, when a plant identifies that there is a wound, it begins to channel all its energy into the dead appendage to help heal it. For us, this could be knowing we’re in a bad/ungodly relationship and dedicating even more time in the relationship to try to fix it. Cutting away the dead part of the plant allows the plant to redirect its energy and focus on other parts. This is what causes the plant to grow taller, stronger, and more vibrant. Pruning allows plants to grow closer to their full potential. To continue with our example, God may take us out of a bad relationship so that we can focus on other parts of our lives and have more time to grow closer to HIm through church or quiet time.
Plants that are wounded are still able to produce fruit and look beautiful. Getting a wound does not mean that you will never grow again. It just means you have some sore spots that must be tended to first. Sometimes, wounds are necessary for our growth as Christians. The pruning process is hard to go through, but it helps us (and plants) grow properly. Just like pruning a plant helps it to produce more fruit of the earth, pruning the Christian heart helps us to produce more fruits of the Spirit.
After reading through this, take a few minutes to think of some areas in your life where pruning is needed. This could be anything in your life that doesn’t reflect Christ or is hindering your relationship with Him, including a quick temper, lack of kindness, or constant cursing. Whatever they are, I would encourage you to write those things down and ask God to help you remove what needs to be removed so that you can focus on becoming more like Him.
Lord, thank you for being a gracious gardener. Thank you for never neglecting to shape me into the person You created me to be. Prune me—cut out of my life things that are distracting or hindering my relationship with You. Teach me how to redirect my energy back to the things that produce life. Amen.
Reference Scriptures in NIV:
John 15:2 – “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.”
Isaiah 18:5 – “For, before the harvest, when the blossom is gone, and the flower becomes a ripening grape, he will cut off the shoots with pruning knives, and cut down and take away the spreading branches.”