For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?” Romans 11:24.

Proper pruning promotes more productive growth, and grafting will promote quicker growth.

My father-in-law taught me long ago the importance of pruning. Plants have an amazing amount of intelligence built-in. They can find sunshine and water; they know which way is up and down; some can even climb or capture bugs; but plants do not completely know how to grow properly. Let it alone, and it will grow haphazardly to the detriment of itself. Adam, the first man (Genesis 2:15) was placed in the wonderful Garden of Eden and assigned to care for it as God established the principles of gardening. Even grass grows better when regularly mowed. Plants need trimming.

I have learned from the Bible and personal experience that God uses pruning to help the Christian as well. Pruning is rarely enjoyable, but the growth and fruit it promotes are part of the blessings of the Christian life. Occasionally I take a perfectly healthy branch away just because two are growing the same way. It is not comfortable when God takes something away from us. Sometimes the branch was perfectly healthy, other times filled with disease; but the Master Gardner has a plan, and we will receive the benefit. Sometimes good fruit has to be eliminated, or the branch will break under the weight. So, too, God knows what we need and what we really don’t need. Sometimes the Lord takes us out of our comfort zone and removes something or someone dear to us to promote our own spiritual growth and independence. Jesus taught about the importance of pruning Israel and the Gentile nations which allowed me to hear the Gospel message and be saved. If I don’t cut a diseased limb, it will spread within the plant, and the plant will die. If God doesn’t take sin-diseased branches out of my life, I will be greatly hurt spiritually. Sometimes I need to trim a plant to shape it or to keep it confined to the boundaries I had planned. God knows how best to train me in the “way that I should go.”

A master teacher learns how to lovingly “prune” his students. It is neither comfortable for the giver or the receiver, but bad habits must be controlled; good habits must be promoted. One cannot always use just positive motivation; there must be a place for correction. Be aware; however, that much patience is required. Choose your correction carefully. Trim too much, and you will produce harm; trim too little, and you will have a wild, undisciplined plant that has little benefit to anyone. Any pruning requires recovery time, and any negative correction requires restoration time. I practice the “Law of Positive and Negative.” For every negative, I try to use an equal and opposite positive as well. If I need to severely correct a child, I will find a time soon to abundantly encourage the same child. You will sometimes be misunderstood, so I really don’t care if my students “like” me today. I have learned that if I do what is best for a child, he may be angry for a while, but over time, when he realizes the benefit, I will have a friend for a lifetime.

I have seen an amazing miracle. I have seen a new plant grafted into an old root mature in half the time normally required. I have also seen a branch taken from one plant and grafted into another to the benefit of both. Wise is the young person who learns to take the energy of youth and graft it into the roots of a wise, aged mentor or coach. Our Heavenly Father will sometimes transplant us to another place or ministry. I have seen a child lose a parent to their utter confusion and despair, and then God gives them a special, new transplanted father-figure, and the child grows in a whole new dimension.

Lastly, a plant doesn’t argue with the gardener, and we certainly ought not to question an all-knowing and all-loving God Who will trim us for our good. Gardening has allowed my faith to grow as I can see an earthly example of heavenly wisdom.

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Jim Carey, Christian School Teacher

Jim Carey was the first staff member hired by Pastor Trieber in 1976. For over 40 years, he has served in many capacities. He has taught in the Christian school since its inception and has taught junior church every Sunday for that entire time as well.