As I write this devotion (April 2020), Spring is upon us and I am preparing to plant my garden. This will be my fifth year gardening and I have to admit I am kind of a hack when it comes to gardening. I should probably study more and plan more for crop location, ground preparation, and fertilization. There are a few things that I can actually grow and one of those is tomatoes. What I have learned about tomatoes is the importance of supporting the vine and pruning the shoots or branches.
As Jesus was speaking to His disciples in John 15:1-5, He used an analogy or parable to illustrate the relationship of the disciples to Christ. In essence, it is a description of the relationship we are to have with Christ. Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 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. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Jesus describes Himself as the “True Vine” and His followers as “branches,” and that we first must remain connected to Him. Any branch apart from the vine can not and will not ever produce its fruit. He also identifies the Father as the “Gardener,” or the one that prepares the ground and cares for the plant.
The purpose of a garden is the harvest. I do not plant a garden in the spring, pull weeds all summer long, cultivate the soil, and water it just to look at it or to say I have a garden. The benefit of the garden is producing a crop or as Jesus says, “much fruit.” I have had some good years and not so good years at harvest time. The good years are directly connected to my effort throughout the growing season. Jesus explains that the gardener pays close attention to his crop and through pruning increases the yield, “Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
There are two aspects to pruning. The first is the removal of deadwood or those things in our life that will never produce fruit. Did you know there are 168 hours in a week, and if we remove time for sleep (56 hours) and our work (50 hours), that leaves just 62 hours of our week or about 8 hours a day? How are you leveraging those hours to produce much fruit? The second aspect of pruning is the removal of extra branches that would produce small fruit, so you can have fewer stronger branches that produce healthy fruit. Sometimes we have to let go of “good things” for “better things.” Are there good things in your life, those you enjoy that could keep you from investing time in the better things? Deadwood trimming is easy. Cutting away a good thing for a better future not so much, and it cannot be done without looking to your gardener.
Remember the Father is your gardener and He can be trusted to help you see where trimming needs to be addressed in your life. As you abide with Jesus, listen to the pruning He wants to do in your life.