Most Christians, at some point in their Christian walk, have heard someone say something about purging and/or pruning. For some it was part of a sermon; for others it was the whole message. For those who have never heard anyone ever say anything about either p word, keep living; your time is coming. Over the years I've heard more than one message about pruning; many involving purging. Both words can be seen as being negative words, but with different purposes, with vastly different outcomes. Let's take a brief look at both words, their purposes, and when to incorporate each or both in our lives. Let's start with purging.
The word purge means to remove, get rid of; to eliminate. Applied to our walk with God it means to examine our lives and remove, get rid of, and eliminate those thoughts, words, actions, and areas contrary to God's Word. These would include areas such as hatred, anger, lust, unforgiveness, and fear. Definite areas of purging here.
To prune means to cut back, cut off, to reduce (such as branches on a tree or plant) to improve shape or growth. One exception to this definition is the use of prune juice in the, shall we say, the encouragement of shall we say, elimination. I'll move on.
Purging is for total elimination, while pruning is cutting back to bring new growth. Example: television time. There's nothing wrong with watching some television, including an occasional sports program. But if you're watching hour upon hour of television-even Christian programs-it's time to prune. It's time to cut back/reduce-time spent in front of those square inches of (mostly) entertainment and invest it in doing something of more value, like spending time in improving your own life. Spend more time working to achieving your dreams than watching others live out theirs.
How about consistently praying for others, including your pastor, or learning what those Sunday School lessons were really about? What about calling someone to give encouragement? Cleaning your office-especially if it's in your home could prove helpful in more ways than one. Improving life, starting with a clean room.
There are lots of ways to spend an additional hour or so a day that's been freed up by pruning back time with that one-eyed monster some call a television. Look around. Ask God to show you areas needing to be pruned. Him showing you is the easy part; doing what God says takes more effort-but it's worth it.
I can think of a few areas in my life needing purging; more needing pruning. What about you? What are some areas in your life needing some pruning? Maybe, just maybe, there's something that requires actual purging. Ask God to show areas needing adjustment, then trust Him to guide you in the process of either pruning or purging.