Saturday, July 15, 2017

Why Pruning Sooner is Always Better


Two years ago, my fig harvest dropped to almost nothing. In truth, it had dwindled the last several years, but I was content with the small harvest because I was busy. I consoled myself with the idea that I didn't have time to handle a big yield anyway. 

I knew the tree needed pruning. Radical pruning. 

It seemed like too much trouble. 

When the fig yield essentially stopped, I knew I had no choice. I had to cut the tree down to save it. When I did, I found the trunk was severely diseased.

I cut it down with a nice tall stump. Still diseased. 

Cut again. Still diseased.

Finally, I did what might have been prevented if I'd done it a few years earlier. I cut the tree as close to the ground as I could, below the line of disease.

It took a while to come back. In fact, last year, I wasn't sure it would. I knew I should've pruned it sooner, and regretted my delay. 

This year, the first post-pruning figs have begun to develop. They're still hard and green but, before long, they'll be sweet fruit. There are only a few figs this year, but, next year, the harvest will be better.

That's how growing fruit works. When there's disease, whether in a vine or a branch, that branch must be removed.

For followers of Christ, who is our Vine, we are the branches. The disease that stops fruit-bearing in our branches is sin, and it must be removed before it consumes our fruitfulness entirely. 

The appropriate way to prune is to cut close enough to the vine to remove the diseased part, but far enough out to allow fruit-bearing to continue. The sooner the pruning is done, the less branch has to be removed. 

Lack of fruitfulness is the red flag that signals the need for pruning... both in fig trees and in believers. Are we bearing the fruits of the Spirit? Are our lives distinctive because of the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control we possess?

If not, perhaps that lack is evidence of some sin-damage that needs to be corrected. 

Better sooner than later is my motto.

Let's take a close look at our fruitfulness. Are we bearing fruit of the Spirit? Are we making disciples? Are we sharing the good news of Jesus with those in our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth?

If not, why not? Is there hidden sin that needs to be removed? Has busyness marred our relationship with our Father? Has love for this world superseded our love for the next? 

Today, let's ask Our Lord to prune now so that more drastic pruning can be avoided later. Pray that the cutting away of sin will be sufficient to return the sweet fruit God intended in our lives. 

Why wait? In pruning away sin, cutting sooner is always better. 

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!" Galatians 5:22 nlt
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