As I checked my kiwi vines for any sign of fruit for the third year in a row, I was very disappointed.
I have mulched, fertilized, trimmed and trained these plants for many years. The vines are healthy, the leaves a rich green, a beautiful sight, indeed.
Yet, there is no fruit.
As I huffed and sighed and frowned at the beautiful vines, I recalled a certain fig tree that was planted in a vineyard and how it didn’t bear any fruit for three years, either.
When owner of the vineyard checked his fig tree, and found no fruit, he most likely huffed and sighed at it, too.
So he told the gardener to cut it down.
The gardener must have appreciated the fig tree, even though it didn’t bear any fruit. So, he begged on behalf of the tree.
“Let it stay for one more year!”, he cried. “I would like to give it extra care to see if it will produce a fig or two.”
And the owner was merciful and agreed to one more year.
When we become Christians, we are given a place in God’s vineyard. He watches those who enjoy being fertilized and cared for by His grace to see whether or not we will produce fruit.
The fruit He is looking for becomes evident in the way we conduct our lives. He is watching to see if we will indeed do as He instructs in His Word.
Do our thoughts honor Him?
Do our words speak truth and love?
Does our life display His heart to those around us?
If not, we might be like the fruitless fig tree.
Our leaves look nice, our blossoms smell good, but if we are not willing to put forth the effort to do as His word says, we won’t produce the fruit that He longs to find in us. We may very well become the fig tree in the vineyard that is taking up space and nutrients from the soil.
Now, it is not a very pleasing thought that a Christian in God’s vineyard could be taking up the good soil, as it reads in Luke 13:7. But think about it for a moment:
These unfruitful Christians usually do more harm than good by their bad examples of complacency. They enjoy God’s grace, but they don’t want to be bothered with changing their lives or mindsets to become more like Jesus.
Often unknowingly, they discourage fellow believers, are cumbersome to the church body, and project a corrupt gospel to souls yet lost.
In the story, the owner of the fig wanted to cut it down, but had mercy on the tree because of the gardener’s love for it.
The gardener, whom we can liken to Jesus, is the One who appeals the owner of our soul to have mercy on us and extend grace just a while longer.
Without Jesus, we would have been annihilated in our third year, third chance, third sin, or sooner.
But with Jesus, we are given a little more time in hopes that we bear a little more fruit.
We aren’t told whether the fig tree started bearing fruit, but we do know this:
If it didn’t, even the Gardener would say, “Cut it down.” (Luke 13:9)
When fig tree type Christians have been given repeated grace and still refuse to produce fruit, even the Gardener, will allow them to be cut down.
God is not mocked. He is merciful and patient and wills that no one should perish. (2 Peter 3:9) But when He finds a fig tree that refuses to bear fruit, we should expect no other reward.
Now, about those kiwi vines… I’m giving them one more year to bear just one kiwi, before I get the chainsaw out.
May you and I, and my kiwi, bear fruit.