(J. R. Miller, "Ministry of Comfort" 1898)
"He prunes every branch that produces fruit—so that it will produce more fruit." John 15:2
The gardener prunes the branches—but not without wise purpose. The Master's words, referring to this process in spiritual husbandry, are rich in their comfort for those on whom the knife is doing its painful work.
For one thing, we are told that "My Father is the gardener" (verse 1). We know that our Father loves us and would never do anything unloving or hurtful to His children. We know that He is infinitely wise, that He looks far on in our life, planning the largest and the best good for us, not for today only—but for all the future; and that what He does, is certainly the best which could be devised. In every time of sharp pruning, when the knife cuts deep and the pain is sore—it is an unspeakable comfort to read, "My Father is the gardener!"
Another inspiring thought in all such afflictions—is that it is the fruitful branch which the Father prunes. Sometimes godly people say when they are led through great trials, "Surely God does not love me—or He would not afflict me so sorely!" But it takes away all distressing thoughts about our trouble, to read the Master's words, "He prunes every branch that produces fruit." It is not punishment to which we are subjected—but pruning; and it is because we are fruitful that we are pruned.
Still another comfort here is revealed—in the object of the pruning, "He prunes every branch that produces fruit—so that it will produce more fruit." The one object of all God's pruning, is fruitfulness. The figure of pruning helps us to understand this. When one who knows nothing of such processes sees a man cutting away branch after branch of a tree or vine, it would seem to him that the work is destructive. But those who understand the object of the pruning—know that what the gardener is doing, will add to the vine's value and to its ultimate fruitfulness.
Pruning seems to be destroying the vine. The gardener appears to be cutting it all away. But he looks on into the future and knows that the final outcome will be the enrichment of its life, and greater abundance of fruit.