When we prepare, plant, and prune, it will put us into a place where the Lord will PRODUCE a great harvest of righteousness in our lives.
In the parable of the sower the seed that falls into the good soil produces a rich harvest—many times what was sown. And Jesus told his disciples in John 15 that he had chosen them to bear lasting fruit. This is God the Father’s heart for all of his children—that they would begin to look like his Son in their love him and for one another. That indeed is truly a heart of righteousness.
Before we close there are a couple more things that need to be said about this discipleship model. The first is that these various components of the discipleship process are not necessarily linear. We don’t prepare and then forever leave that step behind. We don’t listen to the word of God once (planting) and then check that off our list never to return to it again. And the same, of course, goes for pruning and producing. Rather this is a sequence that happens over and over in our Christian lives, and these components overlap and even interact with one another.
Secondly and finally, although we have placed the emphasis on our role and responsibility in each of these components, it is vital to remember that these are not things that we do in our own ability or even on our own. God is actually the one who is ultimately working these things in us. The Bible tells us that repentance is a gift from God. He is the one who prepares our hearts in this way. The parable of the sower tells us that Jesus is the one who scatters the seed. He is the one who plants his word in our heart. And John 15 is very clear that the Father is the one who does the pruning in our lives. And, of course, we know that it is the Spirit of God who produces in us his fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. So as we go about the task of cultivating hearts of righteousness to the glory of God, we must never forget who the true Gardner really is! Throughout this whole process we must never cease to entrust ourselves to him.