Fruit tree espaliered against wall. Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

If I were a young apple tree, I probably wouldn’t like being pruned very much.

If I saw the gardener heading my way with secateurs or pruning shears, I’d probably flinch. I would hope that he would just give me a little trim, and leave most of my luxuriant growth intact.

But the gardener invariably has other ideas.

I’d watch in horror as one branch after another was lopped off. They seemed perfectly good to me, but the gardener thought otherwise.

Why has the gardener cut me back so severely?

To make me more fruitful.

God does the same with us, and we find it just as uncomfortable.

The truth is, pruning hurts, and it seems to involve so much wastage.

But our loving Heavenly Father knows that it’s for our own good. Scripture says that it’s for His glory that we bear much fruit.

With fruit trees, the severest form of pruning is to espalier them. This involves cutting off most of the branches and training the remaining few to grow flat against a wall or framework.

The resulting plant is sometimes barely recognizable as a tree: it looks more like a living fence or latticework.

But espaliered trees are the most productive per square foot. These trees are laser focussed on getting the most fruit out of the smallest area.

If we want to be productive for God’s Kingdom, we need to undergo some pruning ourselves. After all, Jesus said that His Father pruned him:

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.” (John 15:1-2)

If God pruned His Son Jesus to make Him more productive, don’t you think He’ll do the same with us?

Maybe we need to be pruned of some bad habits or some time-wasting tendencies. Perhaps we spend more time on social media or shopping online than we do reading the Bible or serving others.

It could be that we’re spread too thinly and our branches are undisciplined, growing every which way. The Master Gardener might need to direct our focus by removing things which are peripheral to our mission here on earth.

Apples on espaliered tree branch. Image by Pixaline from Pixabay

It can be painful to see branches of our lives lopped off. But if something doesn’t have eternal value, is it really such a waste to let it go? These things might not be bad in themselves, but God knows that they’re sapping energy from the important fruit that He wants to ripen.

“No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” (Hebrews 12:11)

Have you ever met a Christian whose life packed a wallop even though it was short? They make more of an impact for the Kingdom of God than those who live twice as long.

How do they do that?

By pruning themselves of everything extraneous to God’s will for their life. They’re like espaliered fruit trees: laser focussed on producing an abundant harvest for the Kingdom.

Their priorities narrow to the things of eternal importance, and they direct their energies into ripening only those fruits.

We can do the same.

Allow the Master Gardener to judiciously prune you of superfluous branches. Let Him direct your energies into producing a harvest of righteousness. Work on ripening the fruits of the Spirit in your life in order to bless others. Let your focus be only on those things that will have an impact for eternity.

Wouldn’t you like to produce a bumper crop for God’s Kingdom?

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.”

John 15:5

© 2021 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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