This does not seem like something we would necessarily see as good. I realize that God's ways are higher than my ways, so does this mean that God will take away things as we grow in service to him?
ESV - 2 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.
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In my opinion, Jesus in this verse is expressing an idea similar to His words in Mark 4:18-19, where He (again using a metaphor from the process of planting) spoke of seed that fell among thorns to represent the people who hear the gospel message, but who are kept from bearing fruit by such factors as the cares of this present life and world, or the overriding pursuit of other goals, such as wealth or other material objects, to which they give a greater priority. When Jesus speaks in the passage cited in the question of the branches that bear fruit being pruned (rather than being taken away), I would say that He is referring to people who (unlike the thorny ground) have received the gospel message, and are bearing fruit for God, and who could be of even greater service and value to Him, but who still have aspects of their lives or thinking that God (in His omniscience) knows are preventing them from attaining that maximum potential. In such cases, God will act in some manner to remove or change those aspects in a way that may seem to the individuals involved unnecessary or even unpleasant while the process is occurring, but that will in the end produce changes that result in their spiritual growth, and increase their usefulness to God for His purposes. I also believe that, after these changes have occurred, the affected individuals themselves will come to see them as having been for their ultimate, eternal benefit (Romans 8:28).
Bearing fruit is the way that God has ordained to use Christians, through the church, to break the hold that sin, death and evil forces have upon the people of this world. As we display the character of Christ (display the fruit) and perform his works (follow his example) we will, by the power of His Word and Spirit, enable God to graft in more branches to his tree of life to increase the harvest of righteousness. But our sinful flesh often gets in the way. These desires, fueled by the attractions of the world, distract us into chasing what this world has to offer instead of being productive for the kingdom of God. Therefore, God has to prune us. He brings circumstances and events into our lives that will crucify the desires of our flesh and cause us to turn our focus back to God and his will for us. These times can be quite painful if we stubbornly refuse to give up these sinful pleasures. But as we mature in our faith, the pruning becomes less severe because we are already producing a lot of fruit. So the key for every Christian is to stay connected to Jesus, the true vine, and get our nourishment and fulfilment from him and his resources. When Jesus returns he will show us all the fruit that was produced from our labours for the kingdom of God and it will be wondrous to behold. Well done, good and faithful servant. The harvest has been bountiful indeed.
Anyone who has knowledge of growing fruit trees will know that for the trees to continue bearing plentiful quality fruit, they need pruning, that is, removing dead or wilted branches and leaves so that only those that are productive remain.Thus God removes the undesirable aspects of our lives so that only what is desirable to Him remains and we can do more, or bear more fruit in His service.
Jesus here, speaking to His disciples, is saying that everyone who is a true follower of His must derive grace and strength from Him – just as a branch does from the vine. Jesus is the source of all strength. As the vinedresser will remove all branches that are dead or bear no fruit, so will God remove from His Church all self-professed Christians who give no evidence that are part of Christ's body. Like Judas Iscariot, all in name only Christians will be removed and thrown into fire (John 15:4-7). Jesus is using a similar analogy in Matthew 7:15-20 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.” Christians must bear fruit – meaning that we should, by our lives, show that we are not controlled only by selfish desires, but live for Christ (Gal 2:20; 5:22, 23). True Christians are pruned so they may become even more fruitful (Zechariah 13:8, 9; 1 Peter 1:7). God takes away all that which is a hindrance. Sometimes He removes from our lives things that we love but are not useful.
When the first grapes appear in a vinyard they are often cut away and discarded. The next grapes that appear are bolder and more flavorful. They are the good stuff. The winemaker wants the good stuff because it makes a better product. God wants the good stuff so He cuts away the stuff that might not be as good as we think. We do a lot of good things such as tithing, going to church, serving the poor, etc. But with the wrong motives. Maybe we think if we do enough good things, God will leave us alone. God will cut away and discard those things because He wants to get to the good stuff. He wants a heart with pure motives.
Hello, So the same way naturally, a tree is trimmed so that instead of wasting its nutrients in overgrown branches, the nutrients can rather be put towards the few that are there and more on the seed/fruit that it produces. Fruit is an evidence of internal growth and maturity that is then visible on the outside. Jesus talking about pruning us is Him speaking to taking away our excesses, things that will in time starve our fruit and cause it not to grow as well as it should. It is him removing that which is not really necessary in us and that doesn't support our growth spiritually. And Him taking them away allows us to blossom more and focus our energy and nutrients on becoming all that He has called us to be, and doing all that He has put in us to be able to do.
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