The Fig Tree
​​Jesus teaching often references familiar things. While agriculture isn’t quite so familiar today as it was in Jesus’ time, we at least understand the principles. It is a lot of work. And farmers who work hard expect to get something back for their labor. One can well imagine what a farmer thinks about a tree that is taking up good land, being pruned and watered and fertilized and fussed over, and yet doesn’t give any fruit.

But Jesus tells us that our lives are just like fruit trees, and that we, too, are expected to give some return of fruit to God! And in John 15, Matthew 3 and Matthew 7, we are told that “every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” – serious business!

But what kind of fruit might God be expecting to see from our lives? We see the answer in the fifth chapter of Galatians: “but the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” And Jesus teaches that this fruit needs to be delivered to everyone we encounter (even the “ least ” -- see also the Tenants and  this teaching ), as God considers them his representatives to us.

Luke 13:6 (ESV) Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

We far too often fail in this regard: our pride or our temper get the best of us again and again. Yet in this parable, Jesus is illustrating God’s patience with us: the vineyard manager pleads with the owner and receives permission to give the tree another chance.

When life is going well (like the pampering that fig tree will receive in the coming year), let’s be sure to invest our time and energy in delivering fruit to whomever God sends our way!