Can we pray for you today?
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2).
Have you heard that old saying, “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away”? I have heard it whispered in hugs when tragedy hits. Not extremely consoling. Neither is this verse—at first. It says that any part of my life that God considers to be dead, He takes away. Then, even if it isn’t, He may still clip it away. Where is the giveth part? What if the part of me that isn’t producing Godly results is something I actually love to do? It may be a hobby, a little pleasure, or even an attitude or habit that has amused me.
Isn’t it interesting that the word “amused” also spells “am used”? Just because it is something I am used to doing or enjoying, doesn’t make it good. That doesn’t mean it will bear fruit, i.e. point to God working in my life. It is an area in my life that the Spirit will not touch because it doesn’t serve God. It isn’t being spiritually fed.
If we are to be grafted into Christ so we can be His hands and feet on this earth, then the rest of the body should follow suit. That includes our minds, our actions, our pleasures. If it isn’t serving a purpose unto Heaven, it will be cut off from the life-giving Spirit within us. God may take it away. He may rip it from our hands, and like a child who grabbed a candy bar, we wail that He is not being fair.
There may be another part of our lives that is a bit more of a gray area. Perhaps it won’t be as noticeable at first. But we will slowly lose interest in that task, pleasure, or hobby. Or we will reach a turning point which, as Christians, makes us realize that we are not serving God as well as we should. Something has to change. It may be an attitude, a habit, or even a ministry that has become a duty thing instead of a joy. Whatever it is, it is stifling our growth in Him.
Here come the pruning shears. Whack. So we will bear more fruit, God doesn’t want that particular thing sapping our time and energy. The Master Vine-dresser knows what is good for the vine, and what has potential to do good. And, if we stop to think about it, maybe this thing that is stifling our growth can be turned around to be used for God’s purpose. Perhaps it doesn’t need to whacked away, just trimmed a bit so it becomes more life giving and fulfilling.
What things? Things like habits or pastimes that amuse us like knitting all the time, wherever you go. Or watching DVD movies. Or reading. Playing video games. What if you knitted baby booties for the preemies in the neonatal ward, or for unwed mothers who choose not to abort? What if you had a family movie night in your home and invited in the neighbors to watch wholesome films? What if you read to underprivileged children, or help an adult learn to read? What if you helped organize a summer program where kids could play video games that are wholesome, get them up and moving and interacting with each other?
Where is the giveth part? It comes with the warm glow inside us when we know God has used us, and that humbling reality that He loves us enough to want to do so—that we matter to Him. It is when He makes us feel worthwhile enough to be used to His Glory.
Questions: What area of your life might need a bit of reshaping in order to be more useful to God? Will you let Him prune it?