John 15:2 reminds us that God, as a skillful vineyard keeper, “prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it might bear more fruit.” This pruning process can be very painful at times, but God knows what things need to be removed from our lives in order to promote greater growth in Christlikeness. Sometimes it is sin that must be removed; other times, it’s things that are not bad in and of themselves, but that we tend to rely upon and treasure too much, thus keeping us from seeking after God and depending on Him like we should. It could be any number of things – health, talents, family, friends, jobs, money… good things that come from God and are to be used for His glory, but if we begin to pride ourselves in them, as though any of it were because of our own merit or efforts, can become idols very easily.
In spite of God’s faithful pruning, however, that same old pride creeps into my heart all too easily, and how quickly I forget what God has taught me and begin to put confidence in my flesh once again! Yet He lovingly continues His work in my life, reminding me yet again that I am nothing apart from His grace. Maybe the problem is that I need to spend more time meditating regularly on the truth of the cross of Christ, because, as someone has said, Jesus did not come to earth to pat me on the back and tell me what a good job I am doing, but to die for my sins! There is nothing more effective in humbling our pride than to gaze long and often at the cross! In its shadow, we are all equally undeserving and stand in need of His mercy every single day! Oh that God would help us to live daily from that perspective, with a gospel-centered humility and gratitude! Only then can we be effective at all for His glory, as we stop comparing ourselves with others and instead recognize that it is all by His grace alone that we have the immense privilege of being coworkers together for Him!
“But God forbid that I should boast, except in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Gal. 6:14