Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“He takes away every branch in me that doesn’t bear fruit, and He prunes every branch that does bear fruit so that it might bear more fruit. I am the vine; you, the branches. He who stays in me, and I in him, bears much fruit. Without me, you can do nothing. Unless a man stays in me, he is thrown away like a branch, and it withers, and they gather them up and throw them into a fire, and it is burned.”
John 15:2, 5–6
If after much reproof, we do not do well, Jesus said, God will eventually cut us off and cast us into the fire. But if we do well, God will still cut us so that we learn how to do even better.
This can be a puzzling thing if we are proud of how good we have been. If after we have done what is right, God cuts on us, it seems unfair to a spirit that thinks too highly of itself, but this kind of cutting, this pruning, is only a reward for having done good. It is done only to the plants that God thinks are healthy enough to take it.
God is not in awe of us when we do what is right, and He does not feel obligated to heap up rewards on us when we do right. Jesus said that when we do God’s will, then we should say to ourselves, “I am an unprofitable servant. I have only done that which is my duty to do.”
Do not sulk when God rewards your good work with a hard trial. You earn such trials by doing good. Your past obedience makes you worthy to be made even more like your Heavenly Father! Do you think that what good you have done is so great that you deserve nothing but luxuries the rest of your life? Or do you think that you are so holy that God has nothing else to change in you, to make you more like Him? God is answering your prayer to be made worthy to stand in His presence with His Son. Will you complain about the fire that burns out your dross?
Look at what the Father put His Son through, even though the Son had never done anything wrong! The Father perfected the sinless Son through suffering! This is the message the Lord is sending some of us right now:
“Consider him [Jesus] who endured such hostility of sinners against himself, lest you grow weary in your souls and lose heart. For you have not yet resisted to the death, striving against sin, and you have forgotten the exhortation which instructs you as sons: My son, do not lightly esteem the Lord’s correction; neither be discouraged by His reproof, for whom the Lord loves, He chastens, and He scourges every son whom He receives.”
“If you endure chastisement, God deals with you as with sons, for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastisement, of which all have been partakers, then you are bastards, and not sons. Furthermore, we certainly have had fathers of our flesh who chastened us, and we reverenced them. Shall we not much rather submit ourselves to the Father of spirits, and live? They, for just a short time, disciplined us as it pleased them; but He, for our benefit, that we might partake of His holiness. Now, no discipline, for just that moment, seems joyous, but grievous; however, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness in those who have been trained by it. Wherefore, ‘Straighten up the listless hands and the feeble knees,’ and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned aside, but let it be healed instead.”
You do not want to be “turned out of the way” just because God is pruning you and you don’t like it. Receive His correction and live.