I can remember when I was a child watching my grandfather tend his garden. He would carefully walk through his corn, tomatoes, okra and other various vegetables each day to inspect them. He was looking for dead or withering branches and stalks so he could remove them. He knew that those pieces could not produce fruit or much good fruit as it was. He knew the key to a healthy garden was healthy plants. I didn’t understand this was also a spiritual concept until later in life.
John 15:2 says, “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.”
Even as a pastor and leader, we need to continue to inspect and expect pruning. It may hurt, but it’s a good thing. Why should we inspect ourselves? Why should we expect and even desire for the Lord to prune us?
Honestly, because we can’t. The Pastor, the volunteer, the student and the child cannot rid themselves of sin and death. The Lord is the only one that can do that. But…you knew that already. What we, as pastors, often miss is that, even in us, we have dead or decaying branches. Some of those branches are hidden under the ground and only the caretaker knows and cares enough to lift the branch to see what lies beneath. Yes, the Lord knows the depths of our inner being and desires to prune those branches in us that are not of him. This is a good thing.
It’s a good thing because the caretaker actually cares enough and desires for you to be full. It’s not a health/wealth Gospel. It’s a Gospel of sanctification. The Lord is watching over you and when he prunes you, it means he sees you and loves you enough to correct you for your personal spiritual joy and His glory.
Last story. My grandfather also had an apple orchard. One day, my cousin and I had the brilliant idea of having an all out apple war. We went through the the orchard grabbing apples and chunking then at each other…hard. And they hurt. When my grandfather saw us, he ran over and told us to stop firmly (to say the least). He said, “If you are going to do this, grab the bad, rotten apples and throw them. The smelled terrible and had worms in them. The good apples are for us to eat.”
Today, inspect your life and ask the Lord to throw the bad apples as far away from you as he can. Recall how the Lord has pruned you in the past and how it has caused joy in you and glory in Him.
The whole Strength to Stand team is praying for our student pastors. If we can ever serve you, please let us know!