This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples (John 15:8 NIV).
A master gardner friend gave me two tomato vines this year. She'd given me some in the past, but I always managed to kill them before they bore fruit. This year, I decided to tend the vines. (Novel idea!) I watered and fertilized and watched. The vines grew lush and verdant. Although small green orbs appeared, well into August, I still had no ripe tomatoes.
One day, as I pondered the reason for non-ripening fruit, I heard my father's words echo through the years, "You'll never have ripe tomatoes if you don't prune the suckers."
When I was a child, my father planted tomato vines every summer in our back yard, and we harvested and ate delicious tomatoes well into the fall. Now, as I looked at my vines, I saw many non-producing shoots. I began pruning and soon discovered many more tomatoes than I realized hidden by the foliage. Although full and green, those branches were preventing the sun from reaching the tomatoes. And the nutrients in the vines were being used up by new growth rather than going toward enlarging and ripening the fruit.
As I snipped away the excess, I heard the words of Jesus, too:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't bear fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more fruit" (John 15:1-2 NIV).
When I finished pruning, the vines were not as pleasing to the eye. In fact, they looked a little scraggly and sparse, but now, the sunlight was able to reach the tomatoes. Within days, we were enjoying delicious, ripe tomatoes.
Sometimes, we have so many things cluttering our lives the Son can't get to us. We're oblivious to the suckers in our lives, but wonder why our prayers are ineffective or we feel far from God. Our activities may seem good, and our lives full and productive, but underneath, our spiritual fruit is dying on the vine.
We glorify the Father when we bear fruit, and in order to produce fruit, pruning has to take place. Perhaps today is a good day to begin a self-pruning process. Is social media, or some other form of time-waster, sucking valuable time from relationships with your family or your time with the Lord? Are unnecessary activities robbing you of spiritual growth and the ability to hear God's voice? Is a cherished sin keeping your from deeper intimacy with the Father or a negative attitude about life preventing you recognizing and thanking God for your blessings? Ask God to help you identify and prune the suckers in your life. It may take some time and effort, but soon you'll enjoy a closer relationship with the Father and begin bearing spiritual fruit.
Copyright © 2014 Candy Arrington. Used with permission.