Last time I spoke about seasons. Things naturally come to an end. One season ends and another starts. Today I’m going to build a little bit more on that theme. The theme of bringing things to an end. I’m going to talk about pruning.
In John 15 Jesus talks about his heavenly Father as the gardener or vine dresser, land worker who prunes the vine. We may be aware of this scripture but sometimes we approach things with a kind of Christian fatalism – God is doing this to me and I have to passively endure it.
I want to bring a different angle. God gives us responsibilities. Choices to make. A life to steward. Not independence from God but not mere puppets. So we can look at this subject of pruning and ask “what responsibility for pruning do I have?”
There are principles in the importance of pruning that are relevant for us in our lives. Things where we need to take responsibility.
Pruning is the selective removal of certain parts of a plant, such as branches, buds, or roots
Applying that to our lives.
FIRST – Three important things
- Pruning is always with the end result in mind. It is always with an eye on the benefits. The vine grower prunes because he expects the result to be brilliant.
- Pruning is normal, it is healthy and is not because you have done something wrong. Pruning is not a sign of failure. It is natural that a plant has so much life in it that it needs to be pruned. It’s true of a tree, it’s true of your life.
- Pruning may be painless or it may be painful. There are things you can prune out of your life that are a relief! But some things that may be hard or painful. But the pain is worth enduring for the long term benefit.
Tooth ache. Extraction. Did it feel good? No. Are you glad you had it done? Yes.
The benefits of pruning are worth the pain.
7 Reasons for Pruning
I have taken these directly from a website called garden.com.
Relevant to us in our personal lives, relevant to us as church.
- Improve the plants over all health- Frequently removing older stems encourages a plant to put energy into new growth, thus keeping the plant young.
Old things need to be pruned, even if they are healthy in order that more energy is put into the new growth. Old growth will die eventually. Its season will end. Are there things in your life you need to remove to keep you young.
- Control or direct new growth- Each cut will stop the plants growth in one direction and redirect it in another, guiding the shape and size of the plant.
Pruning stops the plant becoming unbalanced. Churches can become unbalanced. All emphasis on one or two things.
Word and spirit Evangelism and social action Pastoral and outward looking Prayer and action Freedom and structure Work and family
- Prevent the spread of disease- Removing dead or damaged branches will decrease the chance of disease entering through dead wood and spreading throughout the plant.
Dead wood must be pruned out. Damage needs to be healed or cut out. Jesus said a little yeast infects the whole batch of dough. Sin needs to be pruned out. Dead works need to be pruned out. Wrong attitudes need to be pruned out.
- Increase the number and quality of fruit, flowers and foliage- Pruning at the right time and in the right places can increase the number of shoots produced by the plant thus increasing yield.
Pruning leads to greater fruitfulness. This is what Jesus says. “every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” This is SO important. Pruning not because it’s good for you to suffer but so you become more fruitful. Better quality fruit. My vine – I couldn’t bear to prune it – thousands of tiny grapes that were no good for anything.
We often put our efforts into too many things. Things that have potential, things that look as though they could be fruitful. It’s natural that there should be too much to do. PRUNE.
As a church there are hundreds of things we could give our money to, projects we could get involved. Initiatives where someone else is doing something and we think we could do that. A little bud that needed to be rubbed out at the outset.
PRUNING MAKES YOU MORE FRUITFUL NOT LESS
- Compensate for roots loss during transplanting- Plants have a balance between top growth and roots and when roots are lost in the process of digging an appropriate amount of top growth should also be removed.
Pruning your activities gives more time and energy for the roots. Getting your roots into God. In his truth, in his love. Building up the root structure. Building up the roots is not impressive. You don’t look at at it and say wow look at those impressive roots! The only time I’ve been impressed with roots is when trying to dig up a an unwanted plant.
- Improve air circulation and allow light to reach inner and lower leaves- It is important to thin dense growth periodically to improve overall shape and health.
The plant gets its energy from different sources – through the root system but also through the leaves and atmosphere.
We need space to breathe!
- Correct weak or narrow crotches in a tree- If a double leader develops, remove the weaker, less desirable limb to avoid damage to the tree in the future
Two branches coming out of one node = weakness. Sometimes we have two options in front of us growing out of the same thing. We need to select the stronger and cut the weaker.
I wrote that before I thought this – Prophetic? Newfrontiers/AoG/
When pruning a rose for instance you prune to an outward facing bud. Otherwise the branches will grow towards eachother and interfere with eachothers growth. In fact they will probably damage eachother making opportunity for damage and disease.
Prune out things that are going to cause damage to yourself or to others.
How to prune.
Prune cleanly – use a sharp knife
Prune wisely – make sure you are pruning the right thing
Prune without guilt
Sometimes its painful sometimes its painless
Pruning is not optional
You always prune with purpose – you know what the end result should look like. The vine grower visualises the fruit – that’s why he prunes. I can cut this back, I can stop this bit of growth, because I know how brilliant the fruit is going to be.
What do you need to prune?