God is seeking fruit. He will accept no substitutes, and the time to change my mind and act differently (aka repent) is NOW. I must pay attention. I must not delay. Am I bearing fruit in my life?
The next time you hear about a tragedy that claims many lives, ask yourself, “Am I just taking up space, or am I bearing fruit to God’s glory?” Is my tree about to be cut down. Has patience run its course.
So … will I bear fruit for Jesus? Jesus will give me time but what if I don’t change my mind and act differently? The fruit of the Holy Spirit need to be cultivated in my life. Am I doing that? Why then, is there no fruit? Jesus wants to know!
Then Jesus told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find figs, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?’
“The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.” | Luke 13:6-9 (The Message Bible)
According to Leviticus 19:23–25, fruit from newly planted trees was not eaten the first three years, and the fourth year the crops belonged to the Lord. A farmer would not get any figs for himself until the fifth year, but this man had now been waiting for seven years! No wonder he wanted to cut down the fruitless tree!
The parable has an application to individuals and to the nation of Israel. God is gracious and long-suffering toward people (2 Peter 3:9) and does more than enough to encourage us to repent and bear fruit (Matt. 3:7–10). He has had every right to cut us down, but in His mercy, He has spared us. Yet we must not presume upon the kindness and long-suffering of the Lord, for the day of judgment will finally come.
I cry out: Master Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner!
But the tree also reminds us of God’s special goodness to Israel (Isa. 5:1–7; Rom. 9:1–5) and His patience with them. God waited three years during our Lord’s earthly ministry, but the nation did not produce fruit.
God then waited about forty years more before He allowed the Roman armies to destroy Jerusalem and the temple; and during those years, the church gave to the nation a powerful witness of the Good News message. Finally, the tree was cut down.
It is significant that the parable was “open-ended,” so that the listeners had to supply the conclusion. (The Book of Jonah is another example of this approach.)
- Did the tree bear fruit?
- Did the special care accomplish anything?
- Was the tree spared or cut down?
We have no way to know the answers to these questions, but we can answer as far as our own lives are concerned! Again, the question is not “What happened to the tree?” but “What will happen to me?”