Religion is meant to be in everyday life a thing of unspeakable joy.
And why do so many complain that it is not so? Because they do not
believe that there is no joy like the joy of abiding in Christ and in His love,
and being branches through whom He can pour out His love on a dying world.
-Andrew Murray, The True Vine
And every branch that bears fruit, he purges it,
That it may bring forth more fruit. – John 15:2
There are two remarkable things about the vine. There is not a plant of which spirit can be so abundantly distilled as the vine. And there is not a plant that so soon runs into wild wood, that hinders its fruit, and therefore needs the most merciless pruning. I look out of my window on large vineyards. The chief care of the vinedresser is the pruning. You may have a trellis vine rooting so deep in good soil that it needs neither digging, nor manuring, nor watering, but pruning it cannot dispense with, if it is to bear good fruit. Some trees need 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 prunes 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 outside 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.