Hi, we come to the last post for this topic, though I will probably pick it up again when the grapes are ready to harvest.
I need to make it clear that pruning is not punishment! Let me explain. There have been times in my life when I have started to be quite fruitful in God’s work, things just seem to come together and peoples lives are amazingly affected! Suddenly, [and usually around about the same time] things start to go wrong as well! May be I lose some work, I get a big bill, or illness sets in. Now I know sometimes this is the devil opposing me, but I have also tried to learn to ask God if He is pruning me for even more fruit? You see, punishment and correction has everything to do with sin, pruning has everything to do with self, [the stuff that hinders fruit!]
When I am fruitful for God, I can think: “hey, I’ve arrived!” But God knows different, there is so much more to come, but things get in the way of abundance, like the ‘I’ve made it attitude’, or ‘look at me now’, or ‘I need to hold on to what I have got now so I don’t lose it!’ Even, ‘that’s shown so and so, I told them I would be something for God!’
The stuff is like time, priorities, sleep, health, hobbies,TV, money, worry, fear etc! All legitimate to one degree or another, but not conducive to a greater harvest if they are not pruned and are allowed to grow rampant! So, when we start to become fruitful some of these things may need to change or even go. That is pruning, not punishment! What has tended to happen with me is that I have thought the pruning was punishment from God, I have searched and searched for sin in my life and found nothing. I haven’t felt guilty or condemned so I have imagined I must have sinned and brought myself under condemnation, then I have got confused, then frustrated, then angry with God, that then is sin and rebellion, and so I have gone in to punishment mode, when all along I should have just accepted it as pruning from the very start! Now go back and read that again and let it sink in! It’s difficult to grasp, but once grasped, you will learn to discern the difference between pruning for self and punishment for sin, then hopefully break the cycle you may be in!
PRAYER Heavenly Father God, whatever mode I am in be it correction or pruning; either way you love me, and you prune me in love and you correct me in love. I am so greatful that you are a loving, caring and merciful God, and that whatever place I’m at, you have fruitfulness in mind which will bless me, others and will bring honour and glory to you. Nevertheless O God, I need to discern the difference between punishment and pruning so that I work with you and for you, for the good of your Kingdom and those I come in to contact with. Thank you for this teaching, thank you for those who are reading and applying it, and thank you for Bruce Wilkinson and his great books. In Jesus’ name amen.