You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me.
An initial reading of today’s passage may lead you to ask, “Did our Lord mix His metaphors?” So, here’s what cleanliness has to do with fruit production.
A Spring “Cleaning”
Consider this your invitation to nerd out with me. The word translated clean in verse 3 is actually the same Greek term translated prune elsewhere in the chapter. Jesus is telling His disciples the time they’ve spent learning from Him and believing His word has left them pruned; stripped of fruitless and diseased thought processes.
Many of us are in the same situation – we’ve heard, believed, and been pruned. But there’s a great deal of growing to do before we can bear fruit that will remain.
Out with The Old
Clearing out the old is only the first step in a lifelong process. Grapevines are pruned at the end of every season so they can produce abundantly the following year. The removed bits do not contribute to the harvest; only the branches which stay connected to the vital main vine.
In with The New
Much like the grapevine, our new lives in Christ are a continual cycle of pruning; of clearing away wrong thinking and useless habits. Eventually, growth occurs and a season of bearing fruit follows. When it does, we still find dead-end sprouts where we tried to do things our way instead of walking in obedience to the Lord. Or a closer look at splendid growth exposes pointless showiness when our good works elevated our own notoriety rather than glorifying God.
Indeed, we must submit to constant and careful pruning if we are to be useful for God’s purposes. This is where our connection to the Lord is crucial. If we are going to produce the kind of fruit we are made for, we must be nourished by remaining in Him. Otherwise, we are nothing more than dead wood.
How do you keep your connection with the Lord healthy and well-maintained so you can receive the nourishment you need to bear fruit for His use? Consider praying and asking Him help you assess your relationship with Him, then invite Him to prune away whatever needs to go.