The Journal of Biblical Accuracy

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Prune to bloom

It’s spring and I just trimmed our trees. Gardening is really quite a job, especially when you are like me and hardly know anything about it. In the Bible (Romans 1) it says that you can learn about God by looking at His creation. A beautiful tree can be breathtaking. But somehow I never seemed to have noticed that it takes the skill of a gardener in order for a tree to turn out so well.

About two years ago we moved into our house with a small garden, big enough to fit 3 trees. I didn’t have a clue what to do with the garden but saw all my neighbours diligently doing things in their garden. So I turned to THE Gardener and asked Him to show me what to do. Anyway it’s Him who planted the garden of Eden (Genesis 2: 8). Low and behold, months later that tree that I had trimmed bore fruit – an apple tree!

The main reason why I had trimmed it significantly was because I didn’t want it to get out of my control, growing so high that only a professional, like Danny the tree surgeon (a friend and brother professional in trimming trees), could trim it down to the size of our garden. Light is also important; does the tree still leave enough light for the other trees or plants? What about my neighbour, is he happy with that much shade in his garden? Or are the roots of my tree interfering with whatever is going on in my neighbour’s garden? It’s amazing what kind of root system trees develop.

If you consider that a tree starts off like a little grass kind of plant, growing into an almost bush-like thing, it doesn’t even look as if it would ever turn into a tree. But you take good care of it and cut off the little twigs so that the remaining ones become stronger AND bare fruit. Now I enjoy looking at trees even more because I try to see how the gardeners trimmed them so that they became the way they are and also I try to see how they might grow further and which branches should be cut because they just sap the energy of the other twigs and branches.

So far about home gardening. Now let’s look at another area of gardening – parenting. I mean the situation you sometimes find yourself in when God trusts you with one person, two persons or a group of people. That can be children, godchildren, nieces & nephews, a small group, a team in sport or at work. No matter who they are or how many, if you are in charge, you better have a vision for them. You teach them, ”water” them, teach by example and you might find that one learns better with practical examples, another when memorizing the specific teaching, skill or verse, especially when applied with the “rod” of repetition. So with each individual you need to see which twigs should grow into branches, which areas need pruning so that they can bloom according to their position, gifting and function. One can direct their growth. The Bible also speaks about people being like trees:

Psalm 1:1-3
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.“ (ESV)

Psalm 52:8
“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.”

Now we will combine the two areas of gardening and take it one level further. Read with me John 15:1-8 :

John 15:1-8
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

OK, we are to bear fruit, which is a good thing. But what fruit are we talking about? We find an answer in Galatians 5:22-23

Galatians 5:22-23
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

If we start reading from verse 19 we see the fruit of the Spirit in stark contrast to the works of the flesh:

Galatians 5:19-21
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

So we see from these passages that Jesus Christ is the vine and that we are the branches. The branch separated from the vine obviously withers away because it dries up. The Father is the vinedresser, the gardener that does the planting, pruning and whatever else is related to us bearing fruit. And if we bear fruit He prunes us so that we may bear even more fruit. To prune means to cut off a piece, to bring in shape. To a human being this is not quite like nail clipping or the trimming of the hair but can be quite painful at times.

We also see that it is the Holy Spirit that wants to bring forth the fruit through us. The fruit of the Spirit is the character of Christ produced by the Holy Spirit. Natural man cannot develop godly character without the work of the Holy Spirit. The principle of fruit-bearing is a life-principle. Life develops from a life-source; it cannot be manufactured. Fruit grows as the requirements of the life-principles are met.

Very often I want to know how things work and I am not content just knowing that I “have been born again, not of perishableseed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23) and that the Holy Spirit is producing the fruit. The Bible is a very practical book and even provides an answer to that in Galatians 5:24

Galatians 5:24
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

According to Romans we are to reckon our old nature crucified. And only when I am crucified, my flesh is disabled and the Spirit free to act. Someone had said “When sin knocks on the door, I just let Jesus answer”.

Please keep in mind that gardening is a dirty job, you may get soil under your finger nails and get bothered by thorns or unruly weeds and sweat. But you will certainly grow in your understanding of there being a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1). God has put man in the garden to work it and keep it (Genesis 2:15) – get into your garden and just do it, prune and be pruned to bloom!

Andrea Kioulachoglou