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“Amen” or “OUCH!”? ~ Thoughts on “The Cleansing” – Andrew Murray

April 4, 2011
“Some tree needs occasional pruning; others bear perfect fruit without any: the vine must have it. And so our Lord tells us, here at the very outset of the parable, that the one work the Father does to the branch that bears fruit is: He cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit.  Consider a moment what this pruning or cleansing is. It is not the removal of weeds or thorns, or anything from without that may hinder the growth. No; it is the cutting off of the long shoots of the previous year, the removal of something that comes from within, that has been produced by the life of the vine itself. It is the removal of something that is a proof of the vigor of its life; the more vigorous the growth has been, the greater the need for the pruning. It is the honest, healthy wood of the vine that has to be cut away. And why? Because it would consume too much of the sap to fill all the long shoots of last year’s growth: the sap must be saved up and used for fruit alone.

“It is not to sin only that the cleansing of the Husbandman here refers. It is to our own religious activity, as it is developed in the very act of bearing fruit. It is this that must be cut down and cleansed away. We have, in working for God, to use our natural gifts of wisdom, or eloquence, or influence, or zeal. And yet they are ever in danger of being unduly developed, and then trusted in. And so, after each season of work, God has to bring us to the end of ourselves, to the consciousness of the helplessness and the danger of all that is of man, to feel that we are nothing. All that is to be left of us is just enough to receive the power of the life-giving sap of the Holy Spirit. What is of man must be reduced to its very lowest measure. All that is inconsistent with the most entire devotion to Christ’s service must be removed. The more perfect the cleansing and cutting away of all that is of self, the less of surface over which the Holy Spirit is to be spread, so much the more intense can be the concentration of our whole being, to be entirely at the disposal of the Spirit.” ~ Andrew Murray

What an uncomfortable lesson – or is it?  To know and really TRUST in the Lord and His plan for me is what is uncomfortable.  I have my own definitions of what being a fruitful branch looks like and it doesn’t include a need for pruning!  But upon reflecting on this more, I get it…I think.  At least in this moment.  When I’m being pruned, I may very well not understand it or comprehend what is really going on, but at the end of the day this equals DEATH TO SELF.  We are called to die to self, but in some instances – since this is an un-natural act to be sure – the pruning may be used as a catalyst for death to self.  It is then only uncomfortable to the degree that I cling to the piece being cut off to produce more of His fruit!  I pray that God would use me in a mighty way and that He would shine more brightly through me.  Do I know what I’m praying for really?  Death to self.  That can go hard or easy I suppose.  If I’m open to His definition of what that may look like, it can go easier.  If I cling to my definition of what fruit-bearing means…I’m toast.  Maybe not right away.  I certainly run the risk of the shoots of my branch to get too big and then potentially become my focus instead of The Vine.  The Vine is what produces the fruit, not the branch.  To “have His life shine more brightly through me”, is having less of me in the way to obscure His glory.  This can be painful, but it is a necessary part of the relationship – Husbandman/Vine/Branch relationship.  I do trust in the Husbandman – Lord, please help my distrust.  “For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,” (2 Corinthians 4:17).  His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  If I cling to The Vine instead of to my definition of bearing fruit, His glory shines through more brightly and produces more fruit for His glory.  The Husbandman will not share His glory.
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