6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ 

    8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'” Luke 13:6-9 (NIV)

     We have two fig trees in our yard that sound like the one in this parable. Every year we see 2-6 figs growing on the tree, but before they begin to ripen they just disappear. We haven’t cut them down yet, though I understand how the man who owned the fig tree felt. But the gardener has more patience in this parable than the owner and he wanted to work with the tree yet one more year. 

    Isn’t it wonderful that God, like the gardener, is patient with us. Yes, he wants to see fruit, but he is patient. But there comes a point when his patience gives out in the same way as was the gardener’s willingness to work with the tree one more year, after which he would cut it down.

     God has given us his plan of grace or salvation. But we weren’t placed in the family of God just to look pretty–like the fruitless fig tree. We are in the family to bear fruit.

     Since this parable comes immediately after the urgent command to repent that Jesus spoke, it seems appropriate to assume that this fruit is connected to our repentance. Without repentance we cannot bear fruit. Without repentance people are trying to do the work on their own strength–they are telling God they don’t need his help. Therefore, they shouldn’t be surprised when his help doesn’t come when they find themselves in want.      Lord, help me to have a repentant spirit. Don’t let me sweep my sins under the rug and pretend you don’t notice, but help me to come to you with open hands and an open heart that I may bear fruit for you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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