Luke 13:8,9—He answered him, “Sir, leave it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you shall cut it down.”
Jesus shared the parable of the barren fig tree to His listeners about a man who, frustrated with the fact that his fig three after three years was still not producing figs, told his vinedresser to cut it down. The vinedresser was more patient and felt like corrective steps were necessary before just killing the tree.
Some commentators believe that the fig tree refers to the nation of Israel, God is the owner and Jesus is the vinedresser. The point of the story is God’s longsuffering attitude toward His unrepentant people through the patient ministry of Jesus. Whether or not this is accurate we can still glean many teaching points from this short parable.
It is easy to become impatient with people who don’t produce or with those who are unrepentant (like in the preceding verses 1-5). But I wonder if we make and take the time to fertilize? Do we love people enough to come alongside them and provide the right action and nutrients to help them change and thus bear fruit? It is inspiring what prayer, encouraging words and deliberate, conscientious service can do!
If you are concerned for the salvation of a long-lost friend, coworker or family member, before you give up on him or her, have you fertilized? Oswald Chambers in The Servant As His Lord, made the observation “Modern evangelism makes the mistake of thinking that a worker must plow the field, sow the seed, and reap the harvest in half an hour.” Life-changing like fruit-bearing takes time. Some people take a lifetime to reach. While only God can rescue a person’s soul, we certainly can participate by patient, persevering care.
Indisputably, evangelism is not a priority to most Christians. Less than one out of ten said that they have ever intentionally built a relationship with someone in the hope of being able to lead the person to Christ. Fewer than one of every five believers claimed to know a non-Christian well enough to share their faith with that individual in a context of trust and credibility.—George Barna in Growing True Disciples
©2018 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)