A few years back I worked full-time for a computer company. I enjoyed my job but it was just a job. I knew it wasn’t my calling, but it was comfortable and secure. I was involved in ministry on weekends at our church and with teaching Walk Thru the Bible Seminars. One day the company’s largest customer that accounted for 80 per cent of the company’s business switched to a competitor. The next day I lost my job. That layoff prompted me to return to full-time ministry, to get back on track with God’s call for my life.
I experienced a kind of adversity the Bible calls pruning, when God takes something out of our life to refocus our ministry. Pruning is described in John 15:1-3 where we see four principles of pruning.
4 principles about pruning
- It only happens to believers. John 15:2
- It happens to believers who are producing fruit. John 15:2
- The Father does it. John 15:1-2
- It is done to produce more fruit. John 15:2
There is a misconception that the more obedient you are to God the less pain you will have. The truth is at times God brings the pain of pruning into your life because you are producing some fruit to produce more fruit!
An example of pruning in the Bible is seen in the life of Joseph. Genesis 37, 39-50 He is one of the few people of which nothing bad is said of him in the Bible. He was a good guy, yet he went through a horrible period of time when so much was taken away from him. From the story of his life we can identify 4 ways God might prune us.
4 things God can prune from us as seen in Joseph’s life
- Possessions, his coat, what little he had was taken from him Genesis 37:23
- People, he was separated from those he loved, family Genesis 37:31-36
- Profession, his job, responsibilities were snatched away Genesis 39:4; 19-20
- Place, his new home and place of employment Genesis 39:20; 40:14-15
God orchestrated all of the bad in Joseph’s life to accomplish a great good! Genesis 50:19-20 It is possible that God can take any of these things from our lives, too. If God is pruning you, think about reordering your priorities.
- How you spend your time. Ephesians 5:15-16
- How you invest your talents. Matthew 25:2-21
- How you use your treasure. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Pruning is sometimes confused with satanic attacks. If it is pruning and you blame Satan, you will miss God’s best. You may become bitter or angry with God. Instead, rest in the Father’s love, patiently seek him.
Pruning is sometimes confused with God’s discipline which happens when we sin. The key difference is pruning occurs when you are walking with God, seeking to please God and are producing fruit in your life. When you realize this refocus your priorities to produce more fruit for Him. You will come through it and when you do, you will experience a more abundant time of fruitfulness for God! A great book to read on this topic is Bruce Wilkinson’s Secrets of the Vine.
How have you experienced God’s pruning in your life? How did you produce more fruit in the next season of your life? Please leave comments or questions below.