"He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit." John 15:2 (NRSV)
Several years ago, our lovely Rose-of-Sharon had gotten out of control. We had been lax in pruning and shaping it; thus, it had become too large for garden beds. Consulting with others on how to remedy the issue, they told the tree must be cut down to the base. It seemed a radical measure, but we trusted and followed the advice given. Within a few years, it was back to its full beauty and blooming. Each year now, we trim just enough, so it flowers but doesn't become overgrown.
When we first accept Christ, trimming away our sin may seem radical. All those ungodly things we once felt were acceptable must be pared away. Our overgrowth of sin removed, we become resurrected into a new healthy and beautiful creation. But this isn't a one-time process because of the continual taint of sin. To remain healthy, we need to undergo periodic pruning. This sounds harsh, but the branches lopped off are the things that are bad for us. For this to happen, we must place our full trust in our Master Gardener to remove those unhealthy branches, making us bear more fruit.
God, we thank you for your constant care. Remove from us those unhealthy branches so we may grow in you. Please help make us healthy and to bear good fruit. May others witness the work of your grace in us. Let them see the hope available to all through Jesus Christ. Amen.