Jesus tells a story about a tree:
“A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down’”(Luke 13:6-9).
If it is a fig tree, it should produce figs. Where are the figs?
Isaiah pictures God’s nation as a vineyard from which he expects to receive fruit (Isa 5:1-8). Jesus borrows this image and makes it individual. God has placed each of us in a certain position—with certain gifts and talents and relationships—because he expects us to do things. He wants us to serve others. He wants us to bear the fruit of his Spirit in our lives, consistently growing more loving, patient, and self-controlled. He wants us to tell others about Jesus and his kingdom. After a certain amount of time (three years in the story), it is perfectly appropriate to ask: where are the figs?
God is patient with us. He understands that we need help and work. He knows our weaknesses. But there is a point at which laziness crosses the line into rebellion. At that point we are only “using up the ground.” This story is a warning that there is an urgency to actually obeying God.
What if I am like this tree? God has made great investments in me. Am I fulfilling his vision for me? Am I bearing the fruit he created me to produce? Where are the figs?
Let’s be a people who don’t merely talk about serving God and others, but who actually produce the fruit.