When we read these verses in John 15 and get to the part about pruning, we probably cringe a little. Even when it is for our own good, we don’t like pruning. It sounds painful.
But, the message is clear, we need to do more pruning in our lives, not less. And, the first area that we need to prune relates to time.
As hard as we may want it to be different, there are only so many hours in a day. In those hours we fill them up with a lot of “good” activity. We make commitments with family, friends, partners, work, organizations, and even ourselves. We are busy, busy people. We are busy, busy people doing “good” things.
But which of those things are bearing fruit?
Why aren’t more Christians active in their faith? The number one reason given is that they are too busy. Of Christians in America, only 20% attend a worship service weekly. Of those who attend worship service only 20% read the bible more than once a week.
How do we expect to bear fruit when we are not receiving nourishment?
Why do we keep participating in things that aren’t bearing fruit and taking our time away from those that do and those that nourish us? I think the answer is in three parts.
First, we get into a rut. We go from day to day, commitment to commitment, busy to busy, and we don’t think and assess things from a higher vantage point. This is one reason it is so important to occasionally pull back, retreat, block out some quiet time that you do not fill up with things already on your list, but that you assess the things you are engaged in, that fill up your time, against the criteria of bearing fruit.
Second, we don’t know how to get out. We really don’t want to disappoint other people and we get ourselves into situations where we have made a commitment and we don’t know how to end it. But God gives us the answer to this as well, it is called seasons. Pruning one activity so that we can begin a new one does not mean we are saying the first activity is bad or something we are rejecting. We are saying it was great for a season and now we are entering a different season of life. This also gives us a way of communicating effectively to those we are stepping away from. It is a way of confirming that value of what we are a part of for the season of life we were in, but that it is now time for us, in this season of life, to move to something else. (keeping in mind that while it may not be producing fruit in our season of life, that does not mean it cannot be producing fruit for others).
Third, I think we sometimes take pride in the importance of our busy-ness. How often have you heard the conversation, “How are things going? Good, we are staying really, really busy.” We get so caught up in being busy and being proud of how much we must be wanted and needed, that we get too busy to see what all this busy-ness is taking away from our lives. How it takes away the opportunity to listen to God and what he has called us to do. There is a big difference between working on lots of things and working on the right things, and aren’t the right things the things that produce fruit?
With Children, at work, with family, in church
It is, in the same way there can be “bible on the bookshelf” christians, who put faith in Jesus but have disconnected from Him in practice and are not living a life of faith. James 2, faith without work is dead
Focus on being healthier. Blood numbers weren’t where they should be. To continue to do the work God has given me, I need to stay healthy and able to perform which means I need to eat right and exercise.