I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. – John 15:1-2

In this text, Christ is teaching the disciples some important truths about being fruitful, and the disciples are learning that purging is a big part of the process that God uses to prepare us for greater productivity.

It’s amazing to see how well fruit trees produce when they are tended to properly. A few weeks ago, I spent several hours cutting out dead branches and unnecessary limbs from a few trees in our back yard, and it’s remarkable how quickly these trees have not only recovered but have now begun producing better fruit.

In life and ministry, we are kidding ourselves if we believe that we will never face this process; so what can we learn, along with the disciples, about purging?

1.  Purging is Painful

To purge is to prune, or to cut or lop off, as in twigs, branches, or anything undesirable.

The Devil promises glory without suffering, but God promises glory through suffering.

Great trials are often necessary to prepare us for greater responsibilities and blessings.

We must be patient in the pain of purging.  It takes time. Patience is staying in God’s purging until His work is completed.

God uses purging in our lives to shape us and make us more productive for Him. Just like one songwriter said, in order to walk in the steps of the Savior, we must begin by “Shaping our lives by His blessed example.”

Of course, none of us enjoys the pain of purging and pruning, but as C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

2.  Purging is Productive

I’ve heard it said that “the gem cannot be polished without friction, nor the child of God perfected without adversity.”

Jesus gives us the reason for purging in verse 2 of John 15 when He states, “that it may bring forth more fruit.” God desires for us to bring forth more fruit, and we should be willing to endure some painful seasons of our lives if they cause us to become more productive for Him.

Consider II Corinthians 12:7-9. Paul faced some painful obstacles, but they made him even more productive for the Lord.

“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

In the midst of his pain, Paul became even more productive for God. This is the whole purpose of the process.

3.  Purging is Promised

This process is promised to all those who are already productive for the Lord. Jesus said in John 15:2, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” We have been called to be faithful and fruitful Christians.

Someone once said, “Blessed is the man who knows how to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks.” Remember, the fact that you are in the midst of some painful pruning may mean that the Lord desires for you to step up and become even more fruitful. Another statement I like is this: “Often our trials act as a thorn hedge to keep us in the good pasture; but our prosperity is a gap through which we go astray.”

Trust the Lord and be willing to not only endure some painful seasons but also to allow the work of the Holy Spirit to cause you to become more fruitful.

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John Evertson

John Evertson, GSBC Campus Pastor

In June 2000, after graduating from Golden State Baptist College, John Evertson answered the call to pastor West Valley Baptist Church in Woodland, California. After 19 years, God moved Pastor and Mrs. Evertson to Santa Clara. Pastor Evertson is instrumental in the church and serves as the Campus Pastor for Golden State Baptist College to help guide the future servants of God. Pastor & Mrs. Evertson have four children — Josiah, Jeremiah, Joy, and Joshua.