“And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.’ ””
Luke 13:6-9 NASB
The pew is a comfortable place. Many of us come to the church building and occupy space in the sanctuary as we nod approvingly at the sermon, appear to respond to the worship songs. We go through the motions week after week, but there is little fruit to show for it.
In the parable above we see a fig tree that has occupied space, but has done little of the tree was meant to do. There is no fruit to justify its continued use of resources. The owner of the vineyard desires to cut
It down, but the keeper seems to work with it, make it more fruitful, to give it one more chance.
In that passage, Jesus is referring to the children of Israel. God chose Israel to be a sign of His goodness to the world. Sadly, Israel had not performed. God desires to cut it down. Jesus Himself is the vineyard keeper. He came to seek and to save what was lost. He was the second chance for them. He stands in the gap to campaign for a second chance. What a great picture of the cross!
We read the Old Testament as a book of example, with application to our lives as believers.
I like second chances. I too have had seasons where the pew became my main ministry. I pushed the pause button, took a breath and spent far less effort serving the Lord. I became unfruitful, merely occupying space. We are saved to bring glory to God, to witness of so great a salvation and the transformative power of the Holy Spirit.
When we just sit and do nothing, there is no testimony of the power of the Gospel. We might as well be cut down. I praise Jesus for His intercession on our behalf as the Holy Spirit has convicted me more than a few times of not using my spiritual gifts and talents more effectively.
There are also believers who really don’t know any better as they have not been discipled. When mature believers work with those new or immature in the faith we are like the vine keeper as we help them develop the skills that foster growth.
Those who respond to the effort, grow and become fruitful, then go on to assist others. Sadly the ones who don’t grow, cut themselves down, frequently leaving fellowship and the faith.
The vine keeper was patient with the fig tree in that was will to invest the effort and then be patient for growth to occur. All too often we in the church expect less mature believers to grow up over night. We become frustrated at what we perceive to be slow progress. We forget that God is in control of the development of a soul in salvation. We also forget or own immaturity.
I used to become so frustrated when I encountered other believers I thought were immature. God began to create many circumstances in my life where the cracks in my own facade were more than present. He has taught me to see with an eye to His finished work, and not the mere slice of time in a spiritual life that I am able to observe. God will complete His work in someone whether I see it or not.
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 1:6 NASB
Father, help me to see others through the eye of eternity, not as I see through my feeble flesh, but through your Holy Spirit empowered sight into the soul, that I may see the glory to come.
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