Have you ever been held captive by sin?
Of course you have and I have too! In fact, the other day as we were driving down the road, I watched this happening in my very own car.
I was happily listening to some worship music and determined we would have a great day. But instead of joining me as I sang at the top of my lungs, my little girls kept interrupting our “praise time” by fighting in the back of the van. Now, this was the usual, “stop touching me. I had that book first.” kind of stuff. It wasn’t earth shattering, but it continued on and on, even with some pep talks from Mom up front. I finally just turned my worship music up louder and figured the Lord could work it out in them. But, it got me thinking….
How often do I get stuck in that cycle of being oppressed by my own sin? Where it seems, I can’t get out of the vicious cycle of continuing it over and over, even with prompting from the Lord to stop. I had to think about how often I am a slave to the very thing that I hate. How about you?
Ever explode in anger, telling yourself all the reasons why it’s ok to be upset?
Ever stay so self-focused that you miss out on the great opportunities God has for you?
Found yourself watching a show again that you know is less than honoring to God?
Is there something obvious that you don’t want to let go of?
What did you think of just now as you read this? Yea, that’s the one.
John 15 speaks of “pruning” as a healthy part of our growth on our spiritual journey. In this passage of John 15, John uses an analogy from a garden, something many people would be familiar with. “Pruning” simply means here that God gets rid of sin in our life so that we can produce the kind of life that reflects and honors Him. I’m thankful that God has been good to gently get out the shears when it’s my turn and has lovingly walked me through these periods of pruning.
I remember one season, where it seemed like God just kept showing me things in my life that needed to get out-of-the-way. It was painful, really painful and involved lots of tears.
I remember feeling like, “Really? You want me to stop rolling out of bed for the day at the last-minute? But, I’m tired.” Yes. I will give you strength.
And you want me to help my husband more by not complaining about ironing his shirts? Yes. Serve him joyfully.
You want me to stop watching that show? And that one? I’ll never be able to watch T.V. again!” Yes. That may not be a bad thing.
But slowly, as He began to prune those things away, I began to fill that time with better, more profitable things. It was an intentional decision that had to be made to turn away from those things that were hindering a closer relationship with the Lord, otherwise it would have been easy to fall back into the same unhealthy routine. Years later, I can look back at the growth that has taken place in my life, because of the pruning that occurred during that season. But the shears are still hard at work. That’s part of the Christian life.
John 15:1-4a “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you.
Are there areas of your life that need the shears? Ask God to show you what they are, because you don’t want to miss out on walking closer than ever with Him.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1