Parables Part 7 - The Fruit Paradigm
Luke 13:6-9, “He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let 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 can cut it down.”
Jesus told this parable on the heels of teaching about the need for repentance. The crowds had asked about several Galileans whom Pilot had defiled by mixing blood with their sacrifice. Jesus teaches the people that the Galileans were not worse sinners for this event, He then says in verse 3 and 7, “but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Therefore, I think it is safe to say that the fruit being spoken of in this parable is the fruit of repentance John the Baptist called for in Matthew 3:8. What is the fruit of repentance? When we bear fruit worthy of repentance it is the evidence in our lives that we have turned away from sin and towards God. For example, imagine a person who is living a sexually immoral lifestyle, or maybe they make a practice of lying or stealing. When they repent of those sins, they turn away from them and towards God. This is described in Ephesians 4:28, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” For a thief to stop stealing, get a job, and then share with others from their labors is a great example of the fruit of repentance. For the liar they will stop lying, for the sexually immoral person, they will stop living in sexual sin. God's Spirit gives us the strength to do this.
So, let’s turn our attention to the parable Jesus shared. This vineyard owner was tired of a tree that did not produce fruit and told his manager to cut it down. The manager asked for a chance to give that tree some special attention and see if it bears fruit. If it does, great, but if not then it’s time to cut it down. What do you and I need to take from this, especially when we consider the context of the parable?
First, I want to show you the incredible patience of the manager. He could have just cut the tree down and been done with it, but he wanted to give the tree a chance to do what it was meant to do. I believe God has patience with us, he provides us opportunities and resources (i.e. the Bible, Prayer, Church, etc…) to grow and be fruitful in our own lives.
Second, fruit is expected. Whether we are talking about the fruits of repentance, or the Spiritual fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23), God expects fruit from us. Now this fruit is empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit, so we do not produce the fruit we only bear it, Jesus described this in John 15 exhorting us to abide, or live, in Him in order to bear fruit. Nevertheless, we are called to have fruit in our lives.
Finally, there is a consequence for not bearing fruit, in other words, if there is no evidence of Christ in our lives, just like the fig tree without fruit we are in danger of being cut down, which speaks of destruction. I don’t say this to scare you, well maybe a little, but to inform you, and encourage you to take stock in your own life. Is the fruit of Jesus plain to see in your life? If so that’s awesome, keep moving forward. If there is no evidence in your life that you have repented of your sin and are now abiding in Christ, then you have to reflect on your relationship with Him, repent of whatever is keeping you from being fruitful, and then move forward from there.
I want you to feel encouraged, but I also don’t want to coddle you. The reality is that we are saved by grace through faith and that is God’s gift to us through Jesus. We do not do any work in order to be saved from our sin. However, there will be evidence of change in our lives as we move from following after our own sinful desires and into a life with Christ. This will always begin with repenting of our sin, as I described above, and will continue as we live our lives in Jesus and He produces fruit in us to bear.
We all need to reflect on our lives through the Word, through prayer, and through fellowship with others, to see if that fruit is present. If it’s not, it’s not too late, God is patient and will give you opportunities to give your life to Him the way He calls us to. If it is there, don’t think that you don’t have farther to go. Our life in Christ is called a walk because it is a journey that is not done this side of heaven, and we all have room for improvement.
Image Borrowed from – Clipart-Library.com