When it was told to Jesus that his mother and brothers were outside looking for him, he told them, Whoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, sister and mother (Matthew 12:46-50, Mark 3:31-35). First, Jesus defines what true relationship is with the Father. Then, he tells a parable about four different soils to show us where we are in our relationship with the Father (sower).
As the sower sowed seed, some fell by the way side, some fell among thorns and some fell on good ground, but I want to talk about the seed that fell on stony places (Matthew 13:5). Out of all the soils, this seed was the only one that sprouted quickly, but because it wasn’t rooted deep enough, it lacked water and had very little soil, it burned and withered away as soon as the sun arose. Unfortunately, it never did what it was planted to do. It never produced fruit.
The seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11). The seed that fell on stony places are like those who receive the word of God with joy. They are excited about hearing the word. They believe at first, but as soon as things get hard or as soon as problems come, the excitement wears off, they give up and they stop believing. Matthew and Mark tells us that affliction and persecution comes as a result of the word. It comes the moment you decide you are going to live the word and not just hear the word.
Luke didn’t use the word, stony. He tells us that some of the seed fell on a rock (Luke 8:6). I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how much preaching, teaching or prophecies that I hear. If I refuse to change my ways, to obey God or to resist temptation, I am always going to be a ‘rocky’ Christian – in today, out tomorrow. Up today, down tomorrow. Believe God today, doubt God tomorrow.
Everything starts in seed form, but God never intended for it to remain a seed. God desires change.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper (Psalm 1:3).
You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain (John 15:16).
Did you know that something can grow quickly and yet still not be fully mature? Every seed has the potential to grow, but it can’t fully grow in certain conditions. If you neglect a plant and it dies, then you can’t neglect the word and expect to grow. You must hear the word again and again. This is how faith comes.
God doesn’t want us to be like the fig tree mentioned in Luke 13. After three years, there was still no figs on this tree. One of the things I learned about a fig tree is that it cannot bear fruit until it first reaches maturity. Think about how disappointed you would be if you planted a tree, but year after year you never saw any fruit. Now think about the people who are waiting for you to grow into what God has called you to be. Think about the people who need you to be obedient in this season. Think about those who are stumbling because you refuse to be a burning and shining light (John 5:35).
There are things we have missed because we uprooted ourselves too quickly. Because we thought God was taking too long or because the truth offended us, we moved and planted ourselves somewhere else – but you will soon realize that you aren’t mature enough for the place you moved to. I remember one year we had a bad storm. As I was driving the following day, I noticed all the trees that didn’t make it – that weren’t able to endure the storm. Because they weren’t ready or prepared for what was coming, some of them were bent over, some were broken while others were completely uprooted. God doesn’t want this to happen to us.
If you run every time things get difficult or uncomfortable, you are only running from the things that can make you grow. You are delaying the promise. You are making the wait longer. The purpose of planting is for growth. Wherever God has planted you, stay there. He placed you there so that you may grow in wisdom and in stature. Let where you are develop godly character and the fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
I know some bad things have happened in your life. You probably thought it was unfair and you can’t understand why it happened. You were mad with people and with God, but don’t let ‘life’ keep you from growing. God has given you grace to grow through it. Stop getting mad and offended over things so easily and grow up. The enemy wants you to be rooted in bitterness, which can contaminate and ruin the lives of others (Hebrews 12:15), but God wants us to be rooted and built up in him (Colossians 2:7) so we can help rebuild (not ruin) lives.
It amazes me how God knew from the very beginning who would bear fruit and who would not, yet He gave us seed anyway. God loves you that much. He wants you to prosper and He wants you to bring forth your fruit in your season, but this will never happen if you don’t remain planted. God doesn’t want you moving from church to church or from relationship to relationship. He is not confused. He knows the plan He has for you.
This is why relationship with the Father is so important. Going to church once or twice a week is not enough. Spend time with Him and learn of Him. Learn His voice. Learn how to trust Him so that when things get rocky, you don’t get rocky and leave Him, but you remain in the Vine.
Jesus told those who believed on him that if they continued in his word, then they were his disciples indeed (John 8:31). Some of us don’t have a problem starting a thing. We have a problem continuing a thing. You know – sticking it out and consistently obeying God. Some believers want to be a tree, but they don’t want God to deal with their root – of pride, bitterness and all those things that keep us from bearing good fruit. Remember, you are not just bearing fruit for yourself, but you are bearing fruit to plant seeds in others so that they may bear fruit, also. Be fruitful and multiply.
Just don’t be like a tree, but be like a tree that is planted.
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).