Brethren Archive

Fruitfulness and Pruning.

by John Dickie

GOD never takes anything from a child of His to speak correctly.  He gives, He always and only gives. His own infinite joy lies in giving. True, to the fleshly eye which never sees spiritual things aright, He may often seem to take away from a man, even to the uttermost stripping.  But all this is merely His perfect way of making ample room in the mis-occupied heart, for His magnificent gifts.  He is never so truly liberal as when He seems to be taking most away.  And it is all done in perfect love.
I have just been reading John xv.  O what golden words!  How sweetly comforting, and yet how very solemn!  But it is faith only which can taste their sweetness or discern their solemnity.
Of course, no branch can bear any fruit unless it abide in living union with the VINE.  But even then, I believe there is no fruit without previous pruning, and it is certain that all fruit-bearing will be followed by further pruning. (see verse 2).  The gracious reward promised to faithful fruitfulness is a repetition of the suffering.  "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth," and whom He loves the best, He afflicts the most.  The knife of the dresser is laid the oftenest on and cuts the deepest into His most favoured branches.  Do we really believe this?  We speak glibly of it, and avow our assent to it, but do we truly believe it?  Do we shape our feelings and our lives according to it?  If so, we shall not shrink from, much less complain of our loving Father's severest discipline.  We shall "count it all joy" (nothing but joy), when we fall into divers trials" James i. 3).  God will not, cannot overdo His pruning.  Let us trust Him entirely.
I do not think that in general this is realized as it should be.  If an afflicted disciple were to tell the story of his sufferings, and to stop there, all who hear would be perfectly able to understand him, and many to feel for him.  But if he were to go on further and tell of the consolations wherewith he has been most sweetly "comforted of God," consolations such as to have made his sufferings delightful; how few of his hearers would understand him then.  They yawn, they stare, they sit dumb, but they understand it no more than the chairs they sit on.  They have had sufficient of the sorrows to make them understand a little of the bitterness, but of the sweetness of the Divine consolations they never tasted.  O it is such a blessed thing to need to be comforted of Him, "as one whom his mother comforteth" (Isa. lxvi. 13).
Then, Lord; I joyful kiss the hand
That gently strips me bare,
And lays me on Thy tender breast,
To lose my sorrow there.
“The Believer’s Magazine” 1901

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