One of the hardest tasks for home gardeners and Christians in the Church is this: Pruning.
There’s something that seems awfully cruel about it. Painful to witness and worse to perform because our sympathetic hearts want to preserve what little bits of life and hope remain, even if the reality is that we must prune. Equally important are the When and How to prune, but today we will cover the Why of pruning.
Why do we prune?
- We prune to keep plants in line, so they maintain a healthy shape or size. Without pruning, they become uncontrolled and unruly.
- We prune to get rid of what is dead, even if what is dead today was growth only a season or a year ago. If it’s dead, there’s no use hanging onto it.
- We prune to encourage flowering or branching…so that it becomes even more fruitful.
- We prune to remove diseased portions or ones harboring insects or pathogens.
- We prune to eliminate unproductive competition for resources by removing suckers on trees and seed heads on plants from bulbs.
- And we prune to delay the death process and make the most of the time of living. You see, every plant from the moment it arises, is on its way to being dead. That process may take a single season with annuals and many vegetables, or that process may be thousands of years.
Our spiritual lives are the same way. We prune because we must. But will we?
- How many churches are more concerned about attracting sheer numbers instead of concerning themselves first and foremost with emphasizing purity before God, personal holiness, and Christian living?
- How many churches still do programs they’ve been doing since the dawn of time simply because they remember the glory days of bustling children’s programs with balloons and felt-boards, or the power of hundreds of people in their Sunday best singing hymns from hymnals to high-church organ music?
- How many churches refuse to discipline their membership or insist upon a biblical standard for service in the Church as pastors, elders, deacons, or teachers?
- How many churches allow bitter, divisive, or power-hungry people to worm their way onto committees where their impact poisons the whole?
- How many churches enable people to suck off the life-blood of the church without asking them to contribute in some manner to community or church life… or without teaching them the value of productive work?
- How many Christians in churches are so busy about the unimportant minutiae of the institutional Church that the whole idea of productivity and making the most of opportunities for the Gospel just fade away?
What do the following Scriptures say about pruning in the Soul Garden?
- John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 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.”
- Luke 13: 6 Then [Jesus] told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ 8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'”
- Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. 14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
- Matthew 5:29 “And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
- 2 Thessalonians 3:6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” 11 We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.