God's word in today's world

In need of pruning

Something about verse 21 bothers me. Even after writing about it a few times, there is still something missing. It’s all very well hearing about how we are a bowl and that God wants to use us right there where we live, work and play. But there is a condition: 21Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing.

We must first empty the bowl of all the wrong things that we tend to carry with us in order to make space for and fill it with good and beautiful fruit.

But we don’t want to hear that. I don’t want to hear about the wrong stuff that I’m carrying around in my bowl. I don’t want to hear about the things I need to do differently, because I enjoy doing them. In a way, I cling to those things so much that I get totally upset when someone says something about them.

It’s already difficult to make your gifts work. Now we have to make sure that we eliminate the wrong things from our lives too. And it isn’t easy. It’s not nice. But it is a 100% necessary.

Once a year I’m in deep trouble. It’s when I walk into the house one Saturday evening, exhausted from working in the garden, with cramped hands and stooped shoulders. I’m in trouble because I’ve wrecked the garden. Where beautiful shrubs grew just that morning, there are now only empty spaces.

Then I have to explain just like I did the previous year: Darling, the shrubs might appear green on top, but just look at the underside. There are so many dead branches with no leaves on them. If I don’t prune the shrubs right back now and then, we’re going to end up with a dead shrub garden with a few green clumps here and there.

And at the end of every year my wife comes to me filled with gratitude for our beautiful garden filled with healthy, green shrubs.

I think it’s not easy for the shrub to be pruned so heavily. It’s not easy to be cut back so much. But it has to be done for the shrub to survive. For the shrub to keep on being a shrub, the pruning shears and sometimes even the saw must do its work.

It’s the same with us. We too have to be pruned now and then. You see, we become so used to doing things a certain way that eventually we no longer notice that part of us that no longer looks very nice. We don’t notice that the fruit of our deeds are actually no longer acceptable.

At times like that it is very important that the pruning shears do their job to cut back the dead branches. It’s not easy, but it is vitally important for our survival.

We must make sure that our bowls are not filled with dead fruit. We must consciously do self-assessment and if necessary (which in most cases is indeed required), we must get out the pruning shears and cut off what does not belong in our lives as children of God.

This is not an easy one, but let’s try our best. Let’s ask God’s Spirit to show us where the bad fruit comes from. Let’s also ask the Spirit to give us the power to cut off the dead branches with the pruning shears.

2 Tim 2:21-22

Are there bad fruits in your bowl?
Where do they come from?
How can you get rid of them?

Father, I know there are fruit in my bowl that do not belong there. I’m afraid to take them out, because what if … So, I ask that your Spirit help me, because I cannot do it on my own and I don’t even know how. Amen.

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