Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Being Pruned

   John 15:2, 5-6 “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bring forth more fruit.  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit, for without me ye can do nothing.  If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

   If after much reproof, we do not do well, Jesus said, God will eventually cut us off and cast us into the fire.  But if we do well, God will still cut us so that we learn how to do even better.

   This can be a puzzling thing if we are proud of how good we have been.  If after we have done what is right, God cuts on us, it seems unfair to a spirit that thinks too highly of itself, but this kind of cutting, this pruning, is only a reward for having done good.  It is done only to the plants that God thinks are healthy enough to take it.

   God is not in awe of us when we do what is right, and He does not feel obligated to heap up rewards on us when we do right.  Jesus said that when we do God’s will, then we should say to ourselves, “I am an unprofitable servant.  I have only done that which is my duty to do.”

   Do not sulk when God rewards your good work with a hard trial.  You earn such trials by doing good.  Your past obedience makes you worthy to be made even more like your Heavenly Father!  Do you think that what good you have done is so great that you deserve nothing but luxuries the rest of your life?  Or do you think that you are so holy that God has nothing else to change in you, to make you more like Him?  God is answering your prayer to be made worthy to stand in His presence with His Son.  Will you complain about the fire that burns out your dross?

   Look at what the Father put His Son through, even though the Son had never done anything wrong! The Father perfected the sinless Son through suffering!  This is the message the Lord is sending some of us right now:

Hebrews 12:3-13
“Consider him [Jesus] who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.  Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.  And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him.  For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

“If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.  Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?  For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.  Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.  Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”

   You do not want to be “turned out of the way” just because God is pruning you and you don’t like it.  Receive His correction and live.