In this article, we will explore what pruning in the Bible is and how we can learn how this gardening method also relates to things in the spirit. So, grab your Bible, and let’s dig in…
Pruning is a concept that is important for Christians to understand. When God prunes us, it is always for a reason and always done in love, regardless of how intense it feels in the moment.
It is important for all believers to learn how to walk through seasons of pruning well, knowing that it is unto the glory of the Lord.
With that said, when God prunes us, it is never a light-hearted experience. It is good to have some reference points and Biblical tools for pruning, what it means when God prunes us, and how to handle it when He does.
Let’s explore what the Bible says about pruning, how the Father prunes us, and what it produces in us when He prunes us.
Pruning is good and Biblical, and it grows us, even if it is difficult to endure at times.
Pruning in The Bible
Pruning is humbling, it can be painful, and it teaches us a new perspective on things. But pruning is also the quickest way that believers grow.
Pruning is an important aspect of the Christian life, and the Bible contains a lot for us to learn about pruning from the Lord.
The best example of pruning in the Bible is found in John 15:1-8. In this passage, Jesus teaches the disciples about being pruned and how it brings glory to the Father.
Jesus described Himself as the Vine and believers as branches. He describes the Father as the Vinedresser, the one who tends to the branches and prunes them where necessary.
In this passage, Jesus teaches that branches that do not abide in Him are removed, and the branches that do abide in Him bear much fruit, and the fruit that these branches bear are to the glory of the Father.
In this analogy, Jesus directly uses the image of a grapevine, a plant being pruned, and as it is pruned, it bears more fruit, and anything that does not bear fruit is removed.
The plant is ultimately healthier and stronger when the dead branches are removed, and the Vinedresser receives the glory.
The book of Hebrews is another good place to find examples of pruning from God.
In Hebrews 5:8, the writer refers to Jesus and says that He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
Hebrews 12:7-8 says that if we endure chastening from the Lord, He is with us as sons and that if we are not chastened or disciplined by the Lord, we are not true sons.
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. – Hebrews 12:7-8
This means that God teaches, disciplines, and prunes those who are His children, those who are closest to Him, and John 15 teaches us that this pruning is a god thing, as it teaches us to abide in Jesus and to glorify the Father.
Pruning is difficult, but it is necessary. It is how we grow strong, and when we receive it well and grow well, God is glorified in our lives.
What Does Pruning Do?
The reference to pruning in the Bible is an analogy taken from gardening. In the context of gardening, pruning is the process of cutting off parts of a plant for various reasons.
Some of the reasons for pruning include the following.
- Removing dead parts of the plant. Trimming off dead leaves and branches makes the plant look more attractive and reduces the risk of the dead material infecting the plant with disease.
- Remove diseased parts of the plant. If diseased parts of the plant are not removed, the ailment can spread to the rest of the plant. This will cause the plant to struggle in its growth, never live up to its full potential, and even cause the death of the plant.
- Pruning stimulates growth and fruit. Pruning removes unnecessary parts of the plant taking resources from other parts of the plant. Trimming the plant stimulates growth in the leaves, branches, and fruit left on the plant, providing a stronger plant and a greater fruit yield.
- Pruning trains the plant. Training in the context of gardening is to cause the plant to grow in a certain way or direction. Branches that veer off in an unwanted direction are trimmed off to encourage the plant to grow in a certain way.
People in Biblical times, including the writers in the Bible, understood the gardening principles of pruning because many people grew their own food and gardens.
This made the analogy a natural way to communicate the principle of spiritual pruning in a way that people can easily understand.
The Pruning Process In The Bible
We have established that pruning is a Biblical concept, but what does the Bible say about the process of being pruned?
Here we turn again to John 15:
‘”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 bears fruit He prunes, 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, 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, bears much fruit; for without Me, you can do nothing.
If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.’ – John 15:1-8 NKJV
Here we can see the Biblical process of pruning.
Jesus is the Vine.
So long as we abide in the Vine, we bear good fruit. Anyone, or any part of us that does not abide in the Vine, does not bear fruit, and whatever does not bear fruit is trimmed away.
However, the pruning takes place on the branches that do bear fruit. Only the branches that do not bear fruit are removed.
The branches that bear fruit are not removed but pruned so that they may bear more fruit, and the fruit glorifies God.
This means that the process of pruning in the Bible is quite simple. Whatever is in us that is not of God is removed. Holy Spirit leads us, and we abide in Jesus, and everything that is not of Him, everything that does not bear fruit, and everything that does not glorify the Father is removed from our lives by Him.
However, everything that does bear fruit, even if it is small and even if it feels insignificant, is pruned by the Father so that it can grow, become stronger, bear more fruit, and glorify Him more.
Why Does God Prune Us?
Pruning can be an uncomfortable process. Pruning implies a cutting-off, which sometimes hurts and is difficult for us to understand because we have a limited view of the bigger picture.
God prunes us for our own good.
We live in a fallen world that contaminates us spiritually and infects us with “disease.” We also have an “old nature” that is not of God, and God prunes this out of us to purify us and make us look like His Son, the true Vine.
Our loving Father will prune the dead and diseased parts of our lives to encourage us to grow in a certain direction and to help us to bear fruit in His Kingdom.
Signs That God Is Pruning You
Pruning is important, but it is always so that we grow, never so that we are cast away. How do we know when God is pruning us? What are the signs to watch for to know when we are being pruned?
Pruning from the Lord can look like many things. It can look like the removal of certain things and people from your life, it can look like conviction from Holy Spirit regarding certain things that need to end, and it can even look like a complete cutting away of portions of your life.
However, the best sign that we are being pruned is that our lives are beginning to bear more fruit that glorifies God, even though other things are being cut away. Pruning is always to cause us to abide, to draw closer to the Father so that He may bear more fruit in us.
If you feel like your life is changing and being shaken, but you are also seeing the good fruit of God in your life, you are being pruned.
Lean into it. Bear good fruit. Glorify the Father.
Pruning is done on the branches that bear fruit. If you are being pruned, know that the Father is teaching you and causing you to grow, not trying to make life or situations difficult for you.
The heart of the Father is always to bring good things, to bring life, and to draw us closer to Him. Lean into the pruning, and know that your life will glorify Him even more when you come through this season.
Melissa is a passionate minister, speaker and an ongoing learner of the Bible. She has been involved in church and vocational ministry for over 18 years. And is the founder of Think About Such Things. She has the heart to equip the saints by helping them get into the Word of God and fall more in love with Jesus. She also enjoys family, cooking, and reading.
She has spoken in churches in California, Oregon, Texas, and Mexico and has been featured in Guidepost Magazine and All Recipes Magazine. Read More…