by Rick Warren — March 3, 2023
From The Life You Were Meant to Live
“I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial.”
1 Corinthians 6:12 (NIV)
If you want margin in your life, you must periodically prune your activities.
One of the things I do to relax is grow roses. I’ve learned that if I want to have any roses in the next season, I have to prune back my plants, usually around the third week of January. One year when I got ready to prune, there were still lots of branches with buds waiting to blossom. Do you know how difficult it was to cut off roses that hadn’t bloomed yet? It killed me to do that—but I knew I had to.
Why do gardeners prune plants? For the health of the plant and for fruitfulness in the next season. If there’s no pruning, there will be no fruitfulness in the next season.
Every year of your life, you sprout new activity branches. You’re doing some things now that you didn’t do a year ago; you’ve added those things on. But what have you cut out? What have you pruned back? You can’t just keep adding to your schedule without cutting back—without pruning your activities.
Here’s a secret I’ve learned as I’ve gardened: When you prune, you don’t just cut off deadwood; you also cut off living branches that are still productive.
It’s the same in your life. Sometimes you need to cut out some activities that are still good, that are still bearing fruit. You have to cut them off to have health and fruitfulness in a new season.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:12, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial” (NIV).
God has given you a free will. You’re permitted to do anything. You can go out and overload your schedule 10 times over, and God’s not going to stop you. But it doesn’t mean it’s the beneficial thing to do.
For most people, saying “no” is much more difficult than saying “yes.” And you want to learn to say “no” because you don’t have time, energy, effort, or even God’s blessing for every opportunity that will come your way.
Since you can’t do everything, you need to determine the right things to do. You need to ask yourself: What does God want me to do with my time and energy?
Selection is the key to an effective life. To be effective, you need to figure out what you are going to do and what you aren’t going to do. And here’s the truth: You’ll actually accomplish more in life by doing less!
The activities in your life have to be pruned periodically. And if you don’t do it yourself, God will eventually use something, such as a circumstance or crisis, to do the pruning for you—because you cannot live beyond your limits month after month, year after year. As Proverbs 20:30 says, “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways” (GNT).
Take an honest look at your life today and see what you need to prune so you can be ready for health and fruitfulness in your next season.