Just as being disciplined for sinning, being pruned so one can produce more fruit doesn’t sound like something to be desired.  As always the process is not the most pleasant path to get the results wanted, but usually the only way to get it is through the process.  “If necessary, He will risk your misunderstanding of His methods and motives, His purpose is for you to cut away immature commitments and lesser priorities to make room for even greater abundance for His glory.”  from Secrets of the Vine by Bruce Wilkinson.  Much of the problem for us is that in order to grow in this glory one must go against our natural tendency.  The pruning is how we live the life that pleases the Lord and carries our impact for eternity.

Why is it so hard to get where we need to be in our spirit?  Even though the pain we suffer may be confusing, misinterpreted, and deemed unfair by us; in the Lord’s view He wants our ultimate good.  This is true both when we are off-track and sinning and when we are on-track and need to grow spiritually.  The biggest deciphering problem is distinguishing God’s purpose in the process.  Bruce Wilkinson’s premise in the Second Secret of the Vine is the pruning of a person is easy to confuse as the disciplining for a sin consciously or unconsciously being committed.  A human’s viewpoint when something goes wrong or something is removed from one’s life (loved one, possessions, desires unmet, etc.), it has to be because of sin and therefore, the Lord is disciplining the sinner.  This is not always the case.  Thus the distinguishing factor is: what is being “corrected or modified”?  As if it is disciplining, it is about sin; and if pruning, it is about self.  Both are to make room in our lives for greater good.  If pruning is misunderstood, over time anger about the process can lead to bitterness and mistrust toward the Lord and take us from pruning to disciplining for our sin of attitude about the process.  So how to tell when and what is going on in our life becomes a challenge.

According to the Second Secret in Bruce Wilkinson’s book “Secret of the Vine”, there are six steps to follow:  1. Recognize the Lord is trying to show you something and ask Him to guide you during this time of trial.  2. As any good parent would do, He will instruct you by revealing whether the experience is for “disciplining” or for “pruning”.  3. Ask of Him if it is a sin you are committing and He will “tell” you.  4. Request He show you in a short time period, such as a day or a week, the sin otherwise you will assume it is for pruning.  Many times He will “tell” you by a friend, reading the Bible, or a preacher’s sermon.  5. If it is a sin, repent and backtrack to the correct path.  Depending on the sin will determine the backtracking; ie: disobeying a commandment would be to backtrack to obeying the guidelines the Lord gave believers.  6. If it is “pruning” means the Lord is asking you to let go of something or at least trust Him enough to completely release it to Him.  The rewards are the abundance of fruit.

“If your relationship with your Father is injured, I encourage you to apologize today for your attitudes and thoughts.” (Secret of the Vine by Bruce Wilkinson)  Ask Him to forgive you for misunderstanding and misjudging His character.

Example situation: a spouse of a loved family member is verbally abusive to everyone around them, they are 80 years old and have always had tyrant behavior; when confronted, they deny any wrong and lie about behavior.  What should be done?

Issue: How do you know it’s happening?    Disciplining: pain    Pruning: pain

Situation’s answer:  emotional pain

Issue: Why is it happening?         Discipline: you’re doing something wrong    Pruning: you’re doing something right.     Situation’s answer: not sure yet, trying to do the right thing.

Issue: What is the level of fruitfulness?     Discipline: none    Pruning: some fruit     Situation’s answer:  is getting something rectified fruit?

Issue:  What is the Vinedresser’s desire?      Discipline: fruit    Pruning: more fruit      Situation’s answer: (What is the fruit suppose to look like?)

Issue:  What needs to go?      Disciplining: sin             Pruning: self     Situation’s answer: (are we talking about me or the tyrant??)

Issue:  How should you feel?        Disciplining:  guilty, sad         Pruning:  relief, trust    Situation’s answer: guilty only because I feel I’m being sneaky by helping the injured party get their property.  So should I be trusting the Lord will open a door?

Issue:  What is the right response?     Disciplining: Repentance–stop sinning    Pruning: Release –give your permission     Situation’s answer:  Letting go and letting God handle how to do this.

Issue: When does it stop?         Disciplining: When we stop sinning.      Pruning: When God is finished.      Situation’s answer:  removal of property without getting killed over it.

There will be a follow-up answer on this.