A good friend once told me a story of a tree she came across while hiking on a vacation with her family. The tree was a wild overgrown apple tree with hundreds of tiny green apples covering all the branches. The apples were all very small and underdeveloped, and the weight of their number caused the branches of the tree to slump to the ground. The tree looked unkempt, and although it appeared to produce a lot of fruit, the apples were inedible. They served no purpose but to weigh down the branches and rot.
She went on to say that this tree was a metaphorical picture to her of an unpruned Christian life. We can be believers but waste all of our energy and resources on the wrong things and never reach our full potential. For example, we can meditate on the wrong thoughts, beat ourselves up over past sins, or constantly compare ourselves to others.
The apples of the undisciplined Christian are sour and not sweet because they never reach full maturity. If the tree’s branches had been pruned, the tree could have used its resources to feed the apples that remained, and they would be ripe for eating, lush, and enjoyable. They would become what God intended for them to become. God prunes us to grow us and help us reach our full potential. If we surrender to Him and the process of spiritual discipline, we’ll mature into delicious apples and be a blessing to others. The pruning process involves renewing our minds, focusing on Christ alone, training ourselves to seek Him daily through prayer, and reading His Word. He wants our apples to reach maturity so our fruit will be ripe, well-pruned, and highly effective for the purposes He has called us to in Him. He wants our life to look like a well-pruned apple tree.
John 15:1-2 KJV
1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Hebrews 12:11 KJV
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.