“He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:2
John 15 contains the well-known ‘vine and branches’ discourse. Jesus states that He is the vine, we are the branches. We need to be connected to the vine to produce fruit. God wants us to be fruitful – to demonstrate His qualities in our lives. Here we see the way God treats us in two opposite scenarios: one where we are not bearing any fruit, and one where we are.
If we are not bearing fruit, we will be ‘cut off’. This does not mean we will lose our salvation – after all, we are still attached to the vine. Rather, God has ways of disciplining us, cutting off the pleasures of sin that we are following after instead of following the Lord whole-heartedly. He does this in order to teach us how we should be living in Christ. He will cut off those areas of our lives that are unproductive.
On the other hand, branches that are producing fruit are pruned. The Greek word here means ‘cleaned’. After the fruit has been produced, the branches are pruned back so that in the next season they may grow back stronger and able to produce even more fruit than the first year. If this pruning did not take place, the branch would become hard and woody, and eventually become less productive. Pruning can be painful. For instance, if you’ve always been quite active in ministry in your church, it can be painful to have to take a back seat for a while. But this is God’s way of pruning, so that you can have more time to seek Him and have the sap of the Holy Spirit run deeper through your life, so that when your next season of ministry comes around, you will be even more fruitful in it. This has happened to me a number of times. There is the initial excitement of getting involved, but after a few years ministry becomes a chore. The pruning is painful, but we need to learn to see it as a time of preparation for the next thing God has for us. Don’t despise it; recognise it as God’s way of producing more fruit in your life in the long-term.