Luke 13:6-9 – Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted 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.'” NIV
This parable appears to be Jesus’ follow-up to the idea that just because things are going well in your life doesn’t mean that you are better off spiritually than someone who is experiencing difficulties or suffering in theirs. This parable brings up the idea of fruitfulness in one’s life. Is one’s spiritual life producing spiritual fruit? It, also, seems to indicate that although the Bible seems to indicate that God has great patience with His creation and His body of believers, that patience is not limitless. The property owner asked the gardener about the fig trees failure to produce fruit after three years. There is a clear expectation for growth and maturity that results in fruit production. After a reasonable time the property owner wanted to replace the fruitless tree with something that would bear fruit. His gardener pleaded for another year of quality care before they replace the tree.
Jesus talked to His first followers about fruitfulness on the night before His death. It’s recorded in John 15:1-8, and it’s setting is probably a vineyard on the way from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. Jesus knew that life was about to change very drastically for His followers; and that if they wanted to continue His mission and bear spiritual fruit, they needed to “abide” in Him. He gives them some good instruction in these few verses, Bruce Wilkerson does a great job of explaining this teaching in his short book, Secrets of the Vine.
God expects fruitfulness from our relationship with Him. I don’t think that fruitfulness is simply limited to one’s personal spiritual growth and maturity. Spiritual gifts and fruits of the Spirit are meant to be used in the context of building up the Body of Christ so that together is may continue Jesus’ mission of seeking and saving those outside of God’s Forever Family. I tend to think that when individuals and congregations fail to produce fruit by continuing Jesus’ mission, God may not love them any less; but after a period of failure to thrive and produce fruit, He withdraws His favor and resources and gives them to others who will continue that mission.
This raises some questions to consider: Is there spiritual fruit in my life? Are there people seeking to know more about God and Jesus? Are others being positively influenced by me? Is my body of believers as concerned or more concerned about those outside of God’s Kingdom than those who are gathered for worship on Sunday? Are there steps that I can take that will help me become more spiritually fruitful?: