Pruned for Glory
Contrary to the waggish euphemism, the world's oldest profession is actually that of gardener. Immediately after man was created, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15).
I think about this frequently as we attempt to rebuild our backyard garden after a fire ruined it this past June. Our new house came with something I always wanted but never had: rose bushes. One of the keys to working and keeping rose bushes is pruning. Pruning is when you cut away the superfluous growth of the plant and return it to its essential trunk, facilitating new growth, new fruit or blooms.
This week I was reading the words of our Lord in the Gospel of Matthew where He says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell” (Mt. 5:29-30).
Jesus is specifically speaking about the sin of lust. We are daily submerged in a culture that not only permits, but encourages outlet of any variety of sin, and I daresay we daily see the bad fruit of that. As we focus on Christ, He frequently illuminates things for us to cut off if we are to grow more toward holiness: a television show or a certain song, anger or gossip, perhaps a dark pattern of thinking or a selfish (or self-destructive) behavior. Pruning these things is good because we need to be holy to be with Christ (Heb. 12:14).
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Heb. 12:11)
God’s plan for creation is salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. As we who believe in Him grow in Christ, as we seek more and more to glorify Him, we are sanctified, meaning the old sinful ways are being pruned from us. In this way, God is both making us fit representatives to share His gospel, and preparing us for an eternity of glorifying Him in the new heavens and earth that are to come.