Verse 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
As we were talking about the Gardener yesterday we mentioned that the pruning is done in the winter. Today we are going to look at the winter parallels in our spiritual lives.
Winter is not most people’s favorite season of the year, nor do we like the seasons of life that are winter-like. These are the times in life when things seem hard and cold. Those times in life tend to have one of two effects on us – we either buckle up and press on or we crumble and complain. When we find ourselves in the times of struggling we are given the opportunity to abide in the vine and survive or wither and die.
In our Bible reading today we see how branches that wither are the ones that are pruned away. When branches aren’t connected to the life juice of the vine they will wither. Withered branches are not worth keeping as they can’t bear fruit since they are dying or maybe even dead already. The pruning of the withered branches isn’t so much about the dead as it is about the living.
If the living are to flourish, the withered need to be removed so they aren’t causing the other branches to become malnourished. Being malnourished doesn’t allow good fruit to grow and keeps the branches themselves from being strong. The withered branches can also droop and damage the good branches. Withered branches are not useful to anyone so they must be removed and destroyed.
In the life of the Church the same principles apply. This is not to say that we cut people off and throw them in the fire. A key portion of being alive in Christ is to be connected to Him. If we are not in close connection with Him, feeding on His Word and living a life focused on Him, we will wither and die spiritually.
The bad times in life reveal if we are connected to Jesus, the true Vine. Our reactions to the struggles in life tell how nourished we are in the Spirit. Is His peace flowing through our lives, even in the midst of the rough spots of life? Then we are connected in the Vine. The pruning that happens isn’t always us being removed from the vine but may actually mean that the branches close to us, that are not connected to the vine, are being removed for our health. Remember withering branches can damage healthy ones if they are left hanging. We should be asking God what He could be doing in the times of pruning. We know that He only does His pruning to increase the fruit of the connected branches.
Making It Personal
What times of pruning have you gone through recently? How do you respond to God’s pruning work in your life? Is your response proof that you are connected to the vine of Christ?
Making It Personal Kids
What are some things that seem like bad times in your life? Have you learned something about Jesus during those times? What are some ways that Jesus wants you to grow to be more like Him?
Father, thank You for loving us enough to prune the bad branches from the vine. Help us learn to abide in You so that we are fruitful for You. In Jesus’ name, amen.