Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.
God doesn’t give up on us so easily. He is still willing to give us grace. Maybe we haven’t been so faithful in our walk with Him or our service and obedience. Maybe we’ve made some mistakes or gone astray. Maybe we’ve fallen into sin or gotten distracted or left our first love for a time. But God is longsuffering and patient. He is willing to do a little more work, to give us some time to make changes and do better and get back on the right track. He is willing to wait and see if the fruit starts to come in our lives again.
The tree in the parable just needed a little extra attention. On its own, it could bear nothing. It was a barren tree that seemed like a waste of space. But when some nourishment is added to it, perhaps it can finally be fruitful. We are not going to be fruitful unless we are nourished by the Spirit of God and His Word. Without His intervention, we will be depleted and barren and useless for our Lord.
In the beginning, the center of God’s creation was a garden. And ever since then, He has been cultivating life to bear fruit. It takes time. It takes a very specific process. It takes that unseen work that goes on below the surface. And then suddenly a bud shoots forth and something blooms where it seemed like nothing could ever grow. And deep in our hearts, God will continue to work. His Spirit will guide and teach us. His Word will pierce through down to the center of who we are. And the work of Christ abiding in us will allow us to be fruitful.
God is willing to be patient and continue to work, but are we willing to put in some effort, too? It’s not always easy to keep on the right track and continue to grow and move forward. We all have setbacks. We all face the weaknesses of our human condition and life in our sinful world. But God will come alongside and tend to our lives with care. He will add the kinds of things that can prompt us to bear fruit for His honor and glory. So may we let Him do His work in us so we can do what we were created to do.