“…every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:2
Scripture sets the clear expectation that we are to grow in our relationship with Christ. Maturing spiritually is a life-long process, not a one-time growth spurt. Consequently, we should see a steady progression as we look back over the months and years. So, are you maturing spiritually? The measure of spiritual maturity is spiritual fruit, and God increases our fruitfulness through pruning. Even though this process varies for each believer, the basic principles behind how and why He prunes us are the same.
First, pruning protects our spiritual health. A vine cannot produce large clusters of grapes unless its branches are disease and insect free, making pruning absolutely necessary. Likewise, God prunes anything that hinders us from “bear[ing] more fruit.” His Word, the pruning knife, corrects the worldly thoughts and attitudes that slowly creep in (v3).
Pruning also encourages growth. A vinedresser cuts back most of the stems from the previous season. Over time, branches can become dry and tangled, hampering their productivity. Plus, the majority of fruit in the coming season will be from new growth. As the Vinedresser (v1), the Father knows exactly when and where to prune in order to rejuvenate our joy and stimulate spiritual growth. As a result, we progress from having fruit, to having more fruit, to having much fruit (vv5, 8).
Finally, pruning gives new direction. Vinedressers don’t just cut away what’s dead or diseased. They strategically cut healthy portions away so a branch will grow in a new direction. You see, God doesn’t just cut away the bad. He often removes good things from our lives to make room for something far better. Time and again He calls us into an area of service or responsibility, but only for a season. His perfect will is found in the new direction.
So, how are you maturing spiritually? Resisting or resenting God’s pruning hampers your growth. The process may not be pleasant but it’s never harmful. In fact, God’s pruning is an act of love because it makes us more like His Son. Warren Wiersbe said, “Your Heavenly Father is never nearer to you than when He is pruning you.” Remember, producing much fruit is a life-long process of submitting to His correction and growing in new directions.