Listening to Pastor Joe’s sermon on Sunday, I was struck by the richness of the pruning metaphor Jesus uses in John 15:2, especially in how the metaphor implies God’s great knowledge in pruning.
Though I’m no expert grower, one basic truth I’ve learned about gardening is that not all plants can be cared for the same way. For example, certain plants need more sun or water than others, and some plants are hardier while others are more fragile. Even when it comes to pruning, a good grower needs to not only know the characteristics of the plant type but also the state of the individual plant—even the condition of the various branches! Only then can that grower confidently prune the plant the way that plant needs to be pruned.
One of the great truths of the Bible is the Father’s intimate knowledge of all people, especially his children. God knows his people’s needs (Mt 6:32), their strengths and weaknesses (1 Cor 10:13; Heb 4:15-16), and their true heart affections (1 Sam 16:7). After all, would God not thoroughly know those who have become spiritually attached to him (Jn 15:5; 1 Cor 6:17)? Thus, God will not treat each branch attached to Christ the same, at least from our viewpoint. Though God infinitely loves every member in Christ, not all will receive pruning at the same time, the same way, or in the same measure, for God knows what is best for each branch.
Our job as believers, therefore, is not to compare ourselves with others but to trust God through whatever pruning we experience. We must believe in the Father’s love by faith and commit ourselves to abiding in Christ as we run the unique race outlined for each one of us.
John 21:21-22, So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”
Questions to Consider:
1. Do you live by faith in God’s wise and loving care for you or do you instead tend to listen to flesh-informed feelings?
2. How should you respond to the temptation to compare yourself to others, especially in the trials you experience?
3. How should God’s intimate knowledge of us and the cutting off language of John 15:6 cause us to fear hypocritical living?