Four spiritual lessons learned from a basil plant
When Jesus walked this earth He told stories to illustrate spiritual concepts. He used objects and scenarios that people would have seen or experienced every day. I would imagine that if He had lived in our day, he might have put smart phones, driving a car or online shopping in His stories to get His point across! I recently started gardening and learned that this idea of “pruning” that Jesus spoke about is far more intricate than I once thought.
Yield is the Goal
Pesto! Have you ever had this amazing Italian delicacy? I recently started growing basil plants, the main ingredient in pesto. It takes quite a few cups of fresh basil leaves to yield a very small amount of pesto. This is why I want my basil plants to bear as many basil leaves in the shortest amount of time possible! Jesus talked about pruning because this is God’s desire for our lives and ministries too. He knows the “fruit” that our lives can produce is SO good and the time is short. I want adopt practices that boost my basil plant’s (and my life’s) yield and avoid any misconception that would hinder production.
“I’ve chosen and commissioned you to go into the world and bear fruit”*
So what exactly is pruning? To prune means to cut off (a branch, stem or leaves) in order for new (branches, stems or leaves) to be grown more quickly. Any plant or tree has a limited amount of energy. When pruned, the plant can redirect energy to the focus points instead of spending its energy on things that are less important. Just like this plant, it is so beneficial for us to routinely refocus where we spend our limited energy and time. When we cut away things that do not produce “good fruit” in our lives and focus on the things that do produce “good fruit”, our life will flourish!
“But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit.”**
Smaller is Better
Wait a minute, isn’t that phrase “bigger is better”? Not when it comes to producing more fruit! When the plant or tree grows tall with many long branches, it uses much of its energy to sustain the “wood”. As you saw in the diagram, the plant or tree will have less resources to spend on growing fruit. A tall fruit tree looks impressive to those passing by, but to the farmer or the hungry person, it is less useful. If we want to produce a lot of “fruit” in or lives, we can’t get caught up in what looks impressive to others. Stay focused on the “fruit”.
Room to Grow
Many plants, including basil, grow their branches in “threes” stemming from a node. There is one main stem and smaller branches sprout out from either side. If you let the main stem grow, the other two will remain small. Instead, if you prune the main stem, the other two will flourish and become “main stems” of their own. Then, just like the previous “main stem” they will produce nodes with off-shooting stems and the process repeats itself. God also desires us to multiply. Often, this means taking ourselves out of the “spotlight” and focusing our time and energy on growing less experienced leaders. By investing in the “smaller”, they grow, multiply, and our yield increases greatly.
Here’s to eating more pesto and cultivating abundant spiritual fruit in our lives!
*Taken from John 15:16 Holy Bible Passion Translation
** Taken from Galatians 5:22-23 Holy Bible Passion Translation