The cutting process for a diamond can be an ugly sight. When looking over a rough diamond, one that is barely recognizable as anything more than an interesting rock, a diamond cutter knows that sometimes more than 50% of that diamond will have to be cut away to produce the most beautiful finished gem possible. In spiritual terms this is like entering a life of discipleship. It is submitting to correction both through organized situations (like school or spiritual mentorship) and through the seemingly unplanned challenges of everyday life. We are shaped by our ability to learn from our mistakes and failures as well as through our diligent study of God and His ways.
Jesus used the analogy of vine dressing here (recorded beautifully by John in chapter 15 of his gospel) and the concepts are very similar. A vine dresser has to cut away branches for the sake of the plant’s future growth and fruit production. A diamond cutter analyzes which parts of the diamond are going to be the most effective at producing sparkle and reflecting light. Sometimes for the sake of a uniform, balanced cut, large sections of the rough diamond have to be cut away. But the result, even if it is smaller, is a diamond that is more beautiful. It is cut so that it can shine.
Settling for a life without discipline and accountability is like choosing to stay in a rough, uncut form. It may look interesting, but it is far from being gorgeous. We speak romantically of finding a diamond in the rough, but we don’t really want them to stay that way. We want our diamonds refined and smoothed. We want the work to be finished, which is what Jesus promises to do in us – finish the work that He started. That may require a cutting process that is less than enjoyable, but the end result is a life of beauty and grace.