No Christian enjoys the pain of purging. But every Christian who is walking in the Spirit wants to bear fruit.
Jesus made it clear that purging is part of the process of fruit bearing. In John 15, Christ compares Himself to a vine and us to branches. Obviously, the purpose of the branch is to bear fruit.
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.—John 15:2
Of all the plants or trees Christ could have used to illustrate this principle, He chose the vine and its branches. Branches of the vine send out shoots that like to spread out. They are full of freedom, and they go where they want to go, anchoring themselves in whatever soil they please—often wasted soil. The vine-dresser, or husbandman, carefully cuts back every shoot that is not contributing to the productivity of the vine.
As Christians, we have similar tendencies to vine branches. And our Husbandman must likewise prune our lives so we can bear quality fruit.
Unpleasant as purging may be to the branch, there are three reasons our Husbandman does it—and all three are for our ultimate benefit.
Purging signifies the providence of God. It reminds us of God’s divine intervention. It tells us that God has a plan and that He cares about our lives. Which of us doesn’t want the kind and sovereign hand of God orchestrating our lives?
Purging increases the productivity of God’s people. He prunes a branch “that it may bring forth more fruit.” There is a purpose to the pain. Christ desires fruitful productivity for us even more than we do!
Purging facilitates the purification of God’s people. God’s Word is the pruning tool He uses to mold us into the image of Christ. (See John 15:3 and Hebrews 4:12.) Purging rids the branch of the unneeded and unfruitful shoots that sap its productivity. Likewise, God uses seasons of pain in our lives and the corresponding truths in His Word to cleanse us from that which hinders our fruitfulness.
Perhaps you are experiencing a season of purging. May I encourage you? Remain patient through it. Let God have His perfect work in your life…and you will later rejoice in a season of greater fruitfulness!