Saturday, February 16, 2008

Are You Bearing Fruit?

Luke 13:6 Then Jesus told a story. "A man had a fig tree," he said. "It had been planted in his vineyard. When he went to look for fruit on it, he didn't find any. 7 So he went to the man who took care of the vineyard. He said, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree. But I 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. I'll dig around it and feed it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'" (New International Reader's Version)
I just did a very quick and not so completely accurate count of the times that fruit is mentioned in the New Testament. Let's just say that it's well over forty times. Of those times, the word is used mostly in the four gospels in the teachings of Jesus. And over and over again, the word is used to compare our lives and our productivity to that of plants and trees and their productivity. I marvel at every teaching of Jesus, and His excellent wisdom. His stories are so simple and uncluttered that the 'simplest' person can understand them, but the 'wisest' person cannot see the true meaning. Yet, His teachings are dissected, broken down, and torn apart in hopes to find a deeper meaning. I will be the first to admit that even though His teachings are simple, I still struggle with full meaning. But I'm confident that if we're interested, God will speak to us through His word, and reveal His intended meaning to me, and to you.
In the story above found in Luke, there is a vineyard owner. Year after year, he walks through his vineyard, and stops at the fig tree. It's a beautiful tree. It is well shaped, has nice large leaves, has nice branch structure. In fact everything about it is perfect. Except one thing. It has no figs. The tree is obviously old enough to produce, and is perfect in structure so that by all appearances, it is a beautiful addition to his vineyard. But it is missing something. All the time and effort that had been spent on it the past several years has so far been wasted. It is puzzling in fact to the owner because he's been keeping tabs on this nice specimen. This beautiful tree will one day bear some wonderful fruit, but each year - nothing. Do you see the hidden meaning yet?
The owner has had enough. "Cut it down!" the owner proclaimed to the man who took care of the vineyard. "There's no need for this spot of ground to continue wasting it's resources on this worthless tree!" "Chop it down, and put something else here that will bear fruit!" "Too much time has been wasted on this tree, and I'm ready to end this and put a tree here that will bear fruit, and not waste time doing it." But the gentle voice of the vinedresser, the husbandman, or the gardener comes to the rescue. "Wait, Sir." "Give me one more chance, one more year to help encourage this tree to bear fruit." "Let me help this tree to realize that I'll do all I can for it this last year, and then, that's it." "Allow me to dig around it, to help aerate it, to fertilize it, to prune it and encourage it to grow and develop and to finally, bear fruit." "I know that it's possible, Sir. This tree is perfect in every other way. One more year." "If the tree has no fruit next year Sir, then I too will be done with it." Do you see the hidden meaning yet?
By all appearances, this tree was perfect. How do we appear to those around us? Are we putting on a show, so that we may look perfect to our friends? It all comes down to the final, most important question.... Are we bearing fruit?
What is the fruit that we should be producing? Read on.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Ephesians 5:9 For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.
I have to read those words, those fruit words over and over. I have to allow them to really soak in. I have to think of my life, what have I done each day. Do those fruit words live in me? Have I been gentle, loving, peaceable, kind, happy, and humble today? It's been hard. I need to hear these words every day, and memorize them, to put them in my life, for them to be a part of who I am.
My prayer is that I am found to be bearing fruit. That I must realize that I only have a certain amount of time here on this earth, and I must use every available resource toward producing fruit. I realize that I am made for that purpose, and that I am expected to be doing so. Help me Lord to realize my responsibility that you've placed within my life. Help me to consciously bear fruit, so that others may see You living in me. Help others taste of that fruit so that they to may see that you are an awesome God who gives us every blessing.
Are you listening to what God is saying in His Word?

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