6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and 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, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” – Luke 13:6-8
This scripture was recently presented in a class I attended as a call to intercessory prayer. It was used as an example of someone rising up on another person’s behalf before God to spare them. I couldn’t help but notice something interesting about this scripture that wasn’t pointed out in the class. It says the owner of the vineyard had been coming around for three years to find that this tree was not bearing fruit. When he ordered it to be cut down THEN the man in charge of the tree said he’d work a bit harder to save the tree. He promised to really work to help it produce the fruit that would save its life. It doesn’t say he hadn’t already been doing these things, but it is curious to me. What had he been doing with that tree before that time? Did he care about that tree before? Had he been fertilizing all the other ones and just let this one go? Had the fertilizer just not worked and he wanted to give it one last-ditch effort?
My thoughts are on parenting at the moment, so that is exactly where my mind went as this scripture was read. It went to some of the areas in my limited years of parenting that I haven’t paid as much attention to some things as perhaps I could have. It took me to some places in my family that I wish I saw a little more fruit. It took me to some bits of revelation that I have been given for both of my girls that I had hoped for a different response. It took me there and then it gave me hope. It took me there and gave me direction. It took me there and gave me a plan.
I realize the rest of the story isn’t made available to us in this scripture. I don’t know if that tree eventually bore fruit or not. I don’t know if the owner of the vineyard gave that guy a good scolding about his lack of attention to that tree over the past three years before he eventually gave him another shot. Given what I know and believe about the God I serve, I believe he gave him the extra year. After all, He is the author of second chances…he is the author of 3rd and 4th chances. He is the author of 7×70 forgiveness.
It would be real easy for the enemy of our souls to convince us it’s no use. Just let him cut it down…it has been a hard three years. Look at that tree…you really want to put all that hard work into it? You want to spend your time and resources to save that old thing? It hasn’t produced anything yet…you really think one more year is going to make a difference?
Maybe I’m an optimist…I think it did. I think that tree bore the best figs they had ever seen at the end of that year.
Are there things in your life that aren’t bearing fruit like you would like? Have you been putting the work into it that you could have? If you have, are you willing to circle that thing, dig up some things that don’t need to be there, pour some nutrients into it and see what might happen in one more year? Perhaps it’s not time to throw in the towel. Perhaps it’s time to ask Him for more time, a shovel and a bag of fertilizer and then roll up your sleeves.