Jesus 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 dresser of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why cumber it the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Lord, let it alone this year also, until I dig about it and dung it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down” (Luke 13:6-9).
Like this tree, you were planted on purpose – for a purpose. The owner picked this tree, but he didn’t plant it. The dresser planted it for him and he was responsible for taking care of something that didn’t even belong to him. It belonged to another man. The bible doesn’t tell us how many times in three years the owner examined this tree, but he was a very patient man.
Just like God has expectations of us, this man had expectations of this tree. He expected it to produce fruit. So it was very disappointing to keep looking, but never finding any fruit on the tree especially when he knew what this tree was able and capable of producing. There should have been fruit by now. He, along with other people, needed what this tree could produce, but they never got the opportunity to eat from it and enjoy it.
When he picked this tree, he didn’t pick it for nothing. He didn’t pick it so that it could look good in his vineyard while taking up space. There was a reason why it existed yet it wasn’t fulfilling its purpose. So after three years of finding no fruit, he told the dresser to cut it down. He never called it useless. It just wasn’t useful. Cumber means to be in the way or to be idle or inactive. The tree was just taking up space, using up all the soil. He could be using that ground for something else.
But the dresser said, Lord, give it another chance. Yes, he interceded on behalf of the tree. Have mercy, Lord. Let me do this one thing. No one is saying that the dresser was lazy or that he wasn’t working, but sometimes what we’re doing is not productive. Either we’re not doing the right thing or what we are doing just isn’t enough. We can always do more.
Isn’t it interesting that the owner didn’t have to tell the dresser what to do? He already knew exactly what he had to do. Some of us know what we should do, but we don’t want to do it or we are afraid to do it or we don’t like change. To see change, that man had to change what he was doing. He had to do what he wasn’t doing before. That’s what repentance is. It is change. The dresser’s words revealed repentance, but his actions following his words revealed true repentance.
Every tree (believer) has leaves, but not every tree (believer) has fruit. Producing fruit is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight, but I’m examining my life and I know there should have been – not just fruit, but much fruit by now. I’m in my forties and I’ve been saved since I was a teenager, but this has nothing to do with age. This has everything to do with growth. Whether it’s the fruits of repentance or the fruit of the Spirit, someone should be able to see it, eat from it and enjoy or benefit from it. If we’re not bearing fruit, then that means there is something we are refusing to do during the process. It’s not the Dresser’s fault. It’s not the soil’s fault. We are the ones refusing to grow in certain areas of our lives.
But I thank God. Someone prayed for us. Someone didn’t give up on us. Someone didn’t leave us nor forsake us. Someone is pleading on our behalf. God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy and He chose to have mercy on us. He spared us. He gave us space to repent and He has given us grace to do this year what we haven’t done in past years.
God is longsuffering to us. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. So let us repent of laziness, procrastination, unfaithfulness and disobedience. The only time I hear believers talk about their assignment is when it comes to the church, but your assignment is beyond the four walls of the church building. The family God gave you is your assignment. That job God gave you is your assignment. That neighborhood or that city you live in is your assignment. God has given us many things and He is looking at how we are dressing and keeping what He gave us (Genesis 2:15).
Some of you may see yourself as the keeper of the vineyard and some of you might see yourself as the tree, but however you see yourself, do what you were placed on the ground or in the ground to do. This parable was really about repentance and I just want us to examine our lives, see where we’ve come short (not anyone else) and repent of our sins.
We will not be the tree that God cuts down, but we shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth fruit in season (and out of season). Our leaves shall not wither and whatsoever we do shall prosper (Psalm 1:3).