You know the kind. It was a tree that was inexplicably healthy and partially dead at the same time. What is amazing is that such trees are often perfectly healthy the prior year. Then, spring comes and a portion of the tree never comes back to life.
People can be like that. Someone’s life seems to go great for a while and then, seemingly out of nowhere, it is as if a part of the person just stops working right. This can be particularly true for someone’s spiritual life. A person who is healthy spiritually just goes dry. They can’t pray and they can’t serve. And they don’t know why.
So, back to my tree. I stopped my car and said to the pathetic looking thing: “Prune thyself!” Nothing happened. Then I wondered if the tree even realized it was half dead? Trees don’t look in the mirror, after all.
As I gazed at the juxtaposition of dead gray wood and a thousand bright green leaves it made me wonder some more. Were there any dead limbs on me? This is not a question I normally ask myself. Think about it. When we think things are going okay in our lives, we are content to let things stay as they are. Unless I’m on a fitness kick, I rarely want things to change. Like most, there are times when I actively resist change.
Is that God’s way of dealing with us? I’m afraid not. Jesus said to his disciples:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 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.
But where in this guarantee to prune his followers did Jesus say, “Every branch that does not bear fruit will take itself away, and every branch that does bear fruit will prune itself”?
When we have dead limbs in our lives, the people around us can almost certainly see them. But we don’t. And we certainly wouldn’t prune them even if we did. No tree has ever pruned itself.
Be assured, if you are in Christ, God will prune you. One thing is certain; the pruning is going to hurt. Thankfully, God does not say, “Prune Thyself!” And He wields his pruning shears with perfect wisdom and abundant, blood-bought grace.