October 10, 2008
Setback or Cutback?
“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that is will be even more fruitful.”
John 15:2 (NIV)
My eldest son is a born leader. That’s a nice way of saying he’s strong-willed. I’ve often heard Dr. James Dobson, President of Focus on the Family, describe determined, strong-willed children this way: “They come into the world smoking a cigar and asking to speak to the administrator of the hospital to complain about the temperature of their room.”
That’s a good definition of my son. For example, in Jr. High, Mitch struggled in his relationship with his basketball coach. Why? Because he didn’t think he was a good coach. While Mitch never said so, his attitude reflected this mind-set, which in turn affected his game. The coach ultimately benched him, and his attitude. Devastated, Mitch couldn’t understand why the coach would bench one of his starting players.
We’ve all been there. You and I have experienced “setbacks” in our jobs, relationships, and even in ministry. These setbacks cause us to wonder, “What’s going on? Why is this happening?” If we’re like my son, you and I may not always see what God is doing behind the scenes. That’s where our key verse comes in.
God is more interested in our character than our comfort. He desires that we produce more spiritual fruit. Therefore, He’s always at work pruning the areas of our lives that don’t match His plans. So, when God allows our world to be turned upside down, we are not experiencing a “setback” but rather a “cutback.” In God’s economy, a cutback can be a good thing because it makes room for more good stuff to come.
However, sometimes the pruning process can feel like it’s going to kill us. I remember one fall when I was pruning my rose bush. My daughter, who loves flowers, was distraught when she saw what I had done to the bush.
“Why did you kill it?” she asked with horror in her voice. I reassured her that I didn’t kill the bush. I only cut it back so that next year it would produce larger and more beautiful roses.
Though it may feel like it at times, I assure you that God is not trying to kill us either. The Lord cuts us back in order to produce more—more Christ-like fruit in our words, attitudes, and deeds.
Eventually, Mitch apologized to his coach for his attitude and for not performing up to his potential. Ah, a new bud of humility was beginning to sprout! That’s the positive effect of pruning. It stimulates the growth of good fruit. So take a look at your life and see where God may be pruning. Then get ready to produce some fresh fruit.
Dear Lord, at times, Your pruning may be painful, but I will trust You. Help me to see from Your perspective that it’s not a setback, but a cutback that can help me grow in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Visit Micca Campbell’s blog for more encouragement.
The 7 Hardest Things God Asks a Woman to Do by Kathie Reimer and Lisa Whittle
If you’re experiencing a cutback, ask God what He is trying to produce in you? Is it the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22)? Allow God to work, and watch how fruitful you become.
What do you think God is trying to produce through your cutback?
Have you experienced pruning in this area of your life before? If so, why do you think God is pruning you again?
Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” (NIV)
Matthew 7:20, “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (NIV)
© 2008 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Friday, 10 October 2008.