6 And he told this parable: “A man had ta fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. uCut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ”
If you plant a fruit tree, then you naturally assume it is going to bear………..yes, fruit. However when this landowner returned to his vineyard, he was disappointed the tree was not producing fruit. He was so angered by it that he instructed it to be cut down because it was only taking up space. But the vinedresser spoke up, who tended the trees, and said, “Sir, one more year. Just give the tree one more chance.” The problem with the tree was it did not bear figs on its branches, yet look closely at what the plan of action was going to be. He is going to dig around the roots and fertilize it. You see, the problem can be seen on the branches, but it can’t be treated there because the true problem lies beneath the dirt in the roots. Where the problem surfaces is not where it is growing.
If we try to apply this in our own spiritual lives, how many times are we disappointed because we try to treat our problems where we see them? The truth is, if we would dive under the surface, we would probably find the answer to 90% of our problems, which is our heart, our motive. Whether we find ourselves in financial trouble, marital distress, relationship problems, work issues, family feuds, the problem is typically deep in the roots. These problems are just the visible signs of it. This is why the vinedresser did not start pruning the branches but started digging at the roots. We can spend half our lives living in disappointment because we are not willing to look at what is really causing our problems. I think a lot of people are scared to death to look under the surface. Why? When you start looking under the surface, it gets messy, and many Christians are not into messy. The word dig is a verb meaning it is going to require work and getting dirty. Nothing good grows when left unattended, only weeds that choke out life. Jesus said, “I did not come for the healthy, but those that are sick.” I am so thankful for a Pastor that leads by example and encourages the flock to go out and find the sick. Once we locate them, it is our responsibility not to invite them to church, but tell them the gospel immediately. The philosophy is that we want them to know the saving gospel first and foremost. How long has it been since you have shared the complete gospel with a lost person and not just invited them to church?
I recently read an excerpt from Francis Chan about leaving his mega church. He said, “The final straw was when a gang member was saved and baptized. He eventually started falling away, and when asked why he didn’t come to church, he gave this statement: “I thought when I was baptized that was like initiation that these people would be my family. I thought that they would care for me, love me, show me the way, but all it really meant was that church was somewhere to be on Sundays.” Could it be we are the very ones blocking the gospel from those that desperately seek it by our lives?
Notice when the owner is upset by the lack of fruit, the vinedresser does not offer the first excuse. He does not say we have had bad weather, I haven’t had enough time, if you would give me better tools, etc. There were no excuses; just a plea to allow one more year so he could do better. The vinedresser also did not see the situation through rose-colored glasses. He saw the truth! The truth was the tree was not doing its job, which was to produce fruit. I am amazed how often people want to excuse people’s actions, or justify them. It’s almost as if they think that if they don’t address the problems, then they are not really there. This would be like saying I think I have cancer, but I am going to ignore it. Obviously this line of thinking would kill you. The same is true for other areas in our life. If we are not willing to look at problems through God’s eyes with a Biblical Worldview, then it will also cause us spiritual death because we will not see the truth. Grace means that you love a person and help them, not turn a blind eye to the problem. The same is true in this story. The vinedresser was ready to see the tree for what it was and do the hard work.
I think the owner can represent justice in this parable. The owner had every right to come in and cut the tree down. In three years the fig tree should have reached its maturity. It was his land, his tree, and he could in reality do whatever he desired. God reigns with justice and can bring judgment whenever He sees fit. But aren’t we so thankful for the vinedresser side of God that brings the mercy. The vinedresser knew the tree wasn’t where it was supposed to be but pleaded for mercy, one more year. When justice says to cut it down, it’s not worth it, mercy rises up and says one more chance. Where would we be without the grace and mercy of God?
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
"But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly; They became stubborn and would not listen to Your commandments. "They refused to listen, And did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them; So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt But You are a God of forgiveness, Gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness; And You did not forsake them.
God desires for everyone to bear fruit for His namesake. He is willing to extend His mercy and grace to anyone who calls on His name. However there will come a day when the invitation is no longer extended. When we leave our earthly bodies, or when Christ returns, there will be no more second chances.
Is there something in your life you need to tend to at the roots? Maybe you need to literally pull it up by the roots, completely removing it from your life. God loves us so much and wants to bestow His mercy and grace upon us through a relationship. Do you have a relationship with God? I am not asking do you believe in God, even the demons believed in God, but that you personally have a day-to-day relationship with Him. The Bible encourages us that we can tell the type of tree by the fruit it bears. In other words, you can tell who belongs to God by their actions. Which side would God find you on today?
1 John 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: