A couple of weeks ago, I made a post about pruning habits that draw our energy away from following God. After the fact, I realized that I only gave you half of the instructions need. The Sunday after creating that post, I happened to preach on the passage in the gospel of John where Jesus describes himself as the vine and we as the branches. Here is that passage.
I am the vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. if anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. [John 15:1‑7]
I want you to note that God does the pruning. There are certain choices of self pruning that can be very significant. Ultimately though, I see true transformation of character when I humble myself and come to God asking God to remove an impulse from me. Otherwise, I find my own efforts yield a temporary result. On my own I can intentionally shift some outward behaviors, but to maintain that for any length of time, I need an internal change that only God can do.
I find the experience is similar to weeding. Today I pulled up an entire garbage bag full of poison ivy. Many of those vines will rapidly re-grow because they were enmeshed with other vines and I couldn’t always get to the root. I eliminated mainly what was visible. My efforts without prayer tend to just eliminate the visible expression of sin. When I come to God in prayer and confess something, the root is effected.
My own sermon prompted me to ask God to prune me. I have been asking and have noticed a dramatic increase in my awareness of sin. God is revealing to me the things that need to go. I in return am doing my best to ask for forgiveness, make more Godly choices, and ask God to remove the desires. It’s just so much more effective. Sorry, if I left anyone with the impression that you can some how do all of this on your own. If that were so, there would be no need for Christ. There would be no need for grace. That simple isn’t true. Praise God though for God is gracious and good.
Blessings from The Practical Disciple