Lucy Blog

Meditating Verse by Verse: John 15:2b

John 15:2 “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.”

This was an interesting half of a verse to meditate on, and there is A LOT to unpack!

Every branch that does bear fruit.

Although we haven’t gotten to the pruning part of the verse yet—there is something very encouraging in the consistency of “every”.  It means that God sees and recognizes all of our fruit!  If He notices ALL the fruit, then we don’t grow and labor in vain!  To me, this is encouraging because I sometimes I wonder if my efforts have mattered.  If they are good enough.  If my personal growth means anything to anyone but me.  But God sees ALL of my fruit!  He probably even recognizes more fruit than I do, because His perspective is so much more encompassing than mine. 

However, if God is noticing every branch that does bear fruit, we should remind ourselves what fruit is.  Fruit, in the natural world, is what grows and encapsulates the plant’s means of reproduction.  A fruit carries the seed(s) that will continue the legacy of the plant.  Fruit is an indication that the plant is growing in the way it was created to grow. 

In the Spiritual world, however, fruit doesn’t look like a strawberry or apple.  It’s not always easy to see the spiritual fruit that grows at our branch tips.  And honestly, we should be more focused on staying connected to the True Vine than obsessing about fruit.  Fruit should be a normal and healthy result of our growth in Him.  But, just as “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45), we will grow fruit based on what we are growing from.  It is therefore important for us to be able to recognize what is growing out of us, so we can make sure we are still growing from the True Vine.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.” –Galatians 5:22-23

This well-revered list may seem almost too simple when we are contemplating our potential fruit.  However, these things truly are evidence of God’s work in our lives. 

He prunes.

God: I like what you’re doing there!

Me:  Thanks!  Happy to serve You with what I’ve learned.  🙂 🙂 🙂

God:  You seem like you’ve got a good routine in this area. Good focus.  Good results.

Me:  Well, You’ve taught me a lot over the years and I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of it!  Finally!

God:  Well, good job faithful servant!  Time to prune you!

Me:  (silent scream)

Pruning can feel like a punch in the gut.  It’s frustrating.  It feels like a punishment.  As though the reward for doing a good job is to be cut back, and then you are expected to grow again.  And be happy about it.  Pruning feels like an interruption to that good groove you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

I can understand pruning diseased or damaged branches.  I do that in my garden frequently!  It makes sense to remove these things that are causing harm or serving no purpose.  But cutting the healthy growth?!  Not the most fun. 

And yet, when God prunes us, we have to trust Him.  We have to trust that He is doing it for our good and for His glory.  We have to trust that He has a plan and a purpose with the pruning.  Jesus told us that “every branch that does bear fruit he prunes”, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise when we feel those pruning shears separate us from growth we’ve worked so hard to achieve.  Of course the “snip” doesn’t feel good!  But focusing too long on the pain, or even on the things we have lost, delays our ability to start growing again. 

But why does a gardener prune?  There are several different reasons for pruning fruit-producing branches—and none of them involve wrathful anger at the plant!  We should not feel victimized by God’s selective pruning in our lives. 

  • A gardener might prune at the beginning of the growing season.  If a plant starts producing fruit when very young, then all of its energy might be focused on that fruit.  A gardener wants the plant to grow more fruit, and by cutting away existing fruit, the plant has more energy to grow and strengthen its branches.  Once the plant is larger and more capable, it has greater capacity for production.
  • A gardener might prune towards the end of a growing season.  A plant might have a lot of unripe fruit growing on it as it nears the end of the growing season.  A good gardener prunes the plant, leaving only the best fruits to ripen.  The gardener knows that the plant only has a certain amount of time and energy left that season, so instead of all the fruit remaining unripe and going to waste, he prunes.  The plant is then able to put all of its energy into those remaining fruits.
  • A gardener might prune between growing seasons.  A gardener knows that pruning fruitful branches during the off-season allows the plant to conserve its energy during those winter months, and then spring vigorously back to growing when the time is right.  This maximizes fruit growth because the plant is ultimately healthier for having been trimmed.

If a gardener is going to prune healthy branches that are bearing fruit, he must be confident that the plant will regrow and bear even more fruit.  That it is for the plant’s good, and the gardener’s glory…  God is confident that we have the capability to go from pruned, to reinvigorated and full of life.  He has confidence in the nature of His True Vine: that branches who remain connected to that True Vine will grow according to the Spirit flowing from the Vine into the branch.

Pruning is humbling.  But it is a good reminder that our growth does not actually belong to us.  It is for God’s glory.  Our concern is to stay focused on our connection to, and relationship with, Jesus.  Growth and fruit will come from that connection.

So that it will be even more fruitful.

When I searched for the word, “fruitful” in the NIV Bible, I found thirty one references!  However, only two of those are in the New Testament; one of which is in the verse we are studying.  In all of the Old Testament references, “fruitful” is indicating population growth.  “Be fruitful and multiply” is what God commanded His people. 

Obviously, children are not the fruit Jesus is referring to in John 15.  However, the concept is the same.  A fruit carries a copy of the seed (or many copies of the seed) that the plant has grown from.  The seeds are not the original—they are copies.  Similarly, people were created in the image of God.  We are not the original—we copy different aspects of who He is.  When God told mankind to “be fruitful and multiply”, He was asking us to duplicate His image. 

The “fruitful” found in the New Testament refers to a different type of multiplication we are called to: multiplication of the works of the Spirit.  When we stay connected to Jesus, we produce fruit as a result of that connection.  God, as the gardener, wants us to be even more fruitful.

John 15:2 “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.”

Conclusion:

God sees the fruit that grows as a result of our relationship to Jesus.  Because He is a wise gardener, and wants the works of the Spirit to be multiplied as much as possible, He strategically prunes the fruitful parts of our lives.  This allows us to be healthier, and His glory to be greater.

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