Pruning for Everyone

Let me say right up front, this is not a favorite topic of mine.  You might even say it is one of my least favorite topics.  Then why talk about it?  Well, because it is a biblical principal, and not much is being said about it these days.

I was fortunate to spend some time with a professional California citrus tree pruner back in the early 1980’s.  I was shocked by what I found out.  I had always helped my dad prune the trees in our yard, and thought I knew what pruning was about.

Ok, let me tell you what little I’ve learned about pruning (and those of you who are professionals please be kind):

1.  Pruning is about improving the tree’s ability to produce fruit.  There are tremendous economic reasons for farmers to do regular pruning – it increases their crop.

2.  Pruning removes old dead branches, but there is more to it than that.  Cleaning up a tree to look pleasant is what I helped my dad do.  Cleaning up a tree to produce more fruit had nothing to do with appearance.

3.  The pruner wants to enhance those branches whose angle is close to 10 or 2 o’oclock.  In other words, they are reaching up to the sun, or in a praising position.  Other branches may be removed.

4.  In citrus pruning the pruner may actually take a lot of the center section out of the tree before he/she is done.  This makes the tree look bad, almost as if a bomb was set off in the center, but the fruit yield is improved, since the center section may not produce as much fruit as the other branches, and by removing it, all the strength goes into the remaining fruit bearing limbs.

In short, pruning is about improving the tree’s fruit yield.  Now let’s summarize our findings:

1.  Pruning may yield a tree that produces more fruit, but it may not be lovely to look at.

2.  Non-producing parts of the tree are eliminated.  This allows more strength to be delivered to the fruit-bearing limbs.

3.  Those branches that are in the praising position are retained.

This short analysis yields some insight into the following scripture taken from John 15:2

“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.”

We could take this scripture at least two ways:

1)  Every branch represents each believer or person.

2)  Every branch represents a part of our life.

Either way, it becomes clear that simply producing fruit is not enough.  The Father wants to prune those branches so that they may bear even more fruit.

Now, let’s be clear.  I don’t suspect for a moment that pruning is pleasant.  I think it is probably painful, and hard.  The fruit trees I saw, when my professional friend got through with them, didn’t look very happy.  But, it is necessary.

Now my friend made a good living from the pruning business.  But, it appeared that it was a service a farmer might economize on, and forego.  But, in asking my friend about it, he said they might be able to get through a season without it, but over the long-haul it would damage their yield if they didn’t regularly prune their trees.

So, there you have it.  You need to produce fruit.  If you do produce fruit you will be eligible for pruning.  But, don’t despair, the pruning is to help you produce more fruit, not less.

Let the cutting begin….

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