Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Bearing Fruit for God

If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down” (Luke 13:9).

Jesus told a parable about a landowner who had been looking for figs on a certain tree for three years. Finally, he told his vineyard keeper to cut down the tree. “Why should it use up the soil?” exclaimed the owner. The vineyard overseer, however, said, “Sir, leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down” (Luke 13:6–9).

The application of this parable to Israel at that time is fairly clear. God was ready to judge Israel, but Jesus was asking the Father to give Israel one more chance. We need to consider the meaning of this parable for us today.

This story shows that God requires fruit from us. Because of the aggressive character of modern enterprise and the numbers orientation of some churches, we find many Christians who hold that God does not care about fruit. All He cares about, some choose to believe, is that we try. It would take some pressure off of us if it were true. Bearing fruit, however, is one of the main emphases in Jesus’ ministry. To be sure, we are not to become caught up in our society’s fascination with shallow and quick results, but we dare not become so peaceful that we lose interest in bearing fruit.

God calls us to make our labors fruitful. The parable shows us that God is patient and gives second chances. We need to understand that there is a limit to God’s patience and mercy. It is urgent that we get our lives in order.

In our day, a common philosophy is that human generosity demands that we give people a second chance. But as unpleasant as it may be, we must realize that it is ultimately God’s prerogative to cut down unfruitful trees. Any second chances are evidence of God’s mercy and we dare not presume upon it. We don’t know when we will die. But when we do, there are no second chances.

Dawson Trotman of the Navigators said, “Emotion is no substitute for action and action is no substitute for production.” God wants each one of us to bear fruit. Today, reexamine the parable of the sower. Evaluate your productivity in light of Jesus’ admonition to bear fruit 30, 60, or 100 times what was sown.