Taking up Space
“For three year 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?” – Luke 13:7
In this parable, there was a fig tree planted in a vineyard. Because of this highly favorable location, the fig tree should have absolutely flourished. Instead, it just sucked and drained valuable nutrients out of the ground while producing nothing for the past three years.
Nobody has done less with more than our generation. As Christians living in America, we have access to powerful preaching, powerful praise and worship; unbelievable Bible applications that could help you study and learn for hours on end, and other resources galore. Yet, despite being planted in possibly the most blessed country in the world, we, as a whole, produce very little of the fruits of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, or self-control.
Over the years, I have heard students tell me where they go to church, and even tell me the story of how Jesus came into their heart. Yet, when I look for fruit, I find none. As soon as they have to work hard, there is no patience. As soon as someone makes him or her angry, there is no love, joy, or kindness, but plenty of foul language and name-calling. As soon as sex is available to them, self-control is out the door. They are planted in a vineyard, but produce no fruit.
I see adults letting stress get the best of them. I’m pretty worn out and stressed right now. Who isn’t? However, I am very aware that people just might be inspecting my fruit. If I fly off the handle, seem constantly sullen, or have absolutely no joy in my heart despite being stressed, what good am I? Why should I use up the soil?
What will you and I produce today? When people inspect our fruit, will they see love such as isn’t common to see? Will they see joy despite the pressure? Will they witness patience, kindness, and gentleness? Would they call our behavior faithful to the God we claim to know? Would they marvel at our self-control? Here is the thing: We can’t manufacture these fruits of the Spirit on our own? Fruits only occur as a result of being connected to the Holy Spirit of God. Fruit is a by-product of being rooted in good ground.
I know what it is like to be a fruitless Christian. I remember trying to tell others about Jesus and have them laugh at me because I was absolutely no different than they were. When they inspected my fig tree, they found no figs. They only saw a leafy wannabe that only talked about producing.
Fortunately, God is patient. “’Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” (Luke 13:8-9)
If you know you are an unproductive, useless Christian who displays no love for anyone outside your immediate circle of friends and family, take the next year to really “dig” in the Word of God. Pray like you have never prayed before. Fertilize the soil of your heart and ask God to remove any and all weeds. Ask Him to create in you a clean heart that wants to do right and wants to love others. Then, and only then, will you produce fruit that others can actually see and eat.
If really serving the Lord and obeying His commands seems evil, unpleasant, and miserable to you, then lay the axe to your own tree and chop it down. Stop claiming to be a Christian when you know in your heart you would never really say no to sin.
Why should you continue using up good soil? You are in a favorable location. There is simply no excuse to not produce!
Choose you this day who you will serve.
As for me, and my house . . .
We will serve the Lord! (Joshua 24:15)