Tuesday, March 11, 2014

John 15:2--Pruning through Counsel

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He 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.

Another way God prunes us into fruitfulness is by using fellow believers as His shears. He knows that we, like vines, need pruned to be fruitful and directs us to submit to pruning from others who have better insights

There is no doubt that we need that pruning. Vines left to themselves will put energy into unproductive things rather than fruit; “left unattended, grapevines can become unruly, and fruiting will be poor due to overproduction of vegetation.” Basic Principles of Pruning Backyard Grapevines (Ohio St. Univ. Extension 2004).   

God knows that humans are the same way. He therefore does not mince words about our need to be trimmed back into productivity and what happens if we resist that trimming:

“He who ignores reproof goes astray”

“He who hates reproof is stupid”

“Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline”

“Grievous punishment is for him who forsakes the way; He who hates reproof will die”

“He who neglects discipline despises himself”

“He who hates correction walks the sinner's path”

God also makes it clear that a lot of that pruning comes from fellow believers. He does that by repeatedly stressing the benefits that come from listening to what other Godly folks have to say:

“A man of understanding will acquire wise counsel”

Proverbs 11:14

“Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory”

“A wise man is he who listens to counsel”

“Wisdom is with those who receive counsel”

“Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed”

“Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days”

“Prepare plans by consultation”

“Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise”

“For by wise guidance you will wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory”

“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, so a man's counsel is sweet to his friend”

“Go where the old people are; find someone who is wise, and stay with him”

“If you find someone with understanding, get up early to call on him; wear out his doorstep with your visits”

“Pay attention to what old people say, for they learned from those who came before them. You can learn from them, and they can teach you how to have an answer ready when you need one”

“Engage in conversation with intelligent people, and let the Law of the Most High be the topic of your discussions.16 Choose righteous people for your dinner companions”

“A wise person's knowledge is like a river that never runs dry, like an everflowing stream of good advice”

“It is a pleasure to hear what intelligent people have to say.17 The assembly will be eager to hear from an intelligent person and will take his opinion seriously”

“Sound judgment, good advice, and gray hair go together beautifully.5 Wisdom, understanding, and sound counsel are appropriate to the aged and the respected.”

“When you find yourself with stupid people, look for some excuse to leave, but when you are with serious-minded people, stay as long as you can”

“Have constant recourse to some devout person, who you know to be a keeper of the commandments”

“Gold and silver provide security, but good advice is better”

That makes sense. Others see things that we miss, and we are therefore wise to listen to them.

There is one caveat to this however. We should seek counsel from wise, Godly, people, not fools or those that do not cleave to God’s precepts. Compare Sirach 6:34, Sirach 6:36, Sirach 9:15-16, Sirach 21:16-17, and Sirach 37:12 with Ecclesiastes 7:5, Ecclesiastes 9:17, Sirach 21:16, and Sirach 27:12.

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