When our Lord cast out the demon from the Gadarene, the hog-owners wanted Him to leave the country because the devil-possessed hogs had drowned. At Ephesus and Philippi, Paul ran into violent opposition because the gospel had broken up the devil’s business. I question any religious enterprise that does not arouse the powers of evil in the community. Any so-called revival that does not disturb the prevailing spirit of the neighborhood is a farce.
Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
“Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.” The beloved child is chastised and the fruitful branch is pruned. Many a troubled soul in an hour of distress has fancied itself the object of God’s displeasure. But it is the fruitful branch that feels the knife. The unfruitful branch is taken away and burned. Many a saint in adversity has feared that he is perhaps a stranger to grace, forgetting that it is the bastards, not sons, who escape the Father’s discipline.
There is a purpose in the pruning, “that it may bring forth more fruit.” Not the feverish stepped-up production of this machine age but the natural, spontaneous fruitfulness of the branch that draws its life from the vine. Too much of our religious productivity is ground out by the methods of this age. The true Christian abides and abounds, and to him the Father-Husbandman’s pruning is part of he process.