Three Strikes, Not Out – Accountability and Opportunity

Today proved to be both a restful day and  productive day. The spring weather has certainly been enjoyable and that makes life easier. My afternoon workout went better than I anticipated. I guess the two days off were helpful. I walked eight minutes on the treadmill, thirty-five minutes on the exercise bike (going farther and faster than I have in the past) and a good ten minutes on the row machine. That was along with my upper and lower body weight lifting. I have also been using my electronic muscle stimulator on my right leg to push the muscle “firing” and development.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… Then Jesus told them this parable: “There was once a man who had a fig tree growing in his vineyard. He went looking for figs on it but found none. So he said to his gardener, ‘Look, for three years I have been coming here looking for figs on this fig tree, and I haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it go on using up the soil?’ But the gardener answered, ‘Leave it alone, sir, just one more year; I will dig around it and put in some fertilizer. Then if the tree bears figs next year, so much the better; if not, then you can have it cut down.’” Luke 13:6-9

A few days ago I was reading Luke 13 and this parable got my attention. I have never preached a sermon or given much consideration to this parable. But it is one that certainly gets our attention. Several commentators agree that the parable is related to the verses before it when Jesus calls His listeners to turn from their sins, “…I tell you that if you do not turn from your sins, you will all die as they did.” (Luke 13:5)

This was a fig tree in a vineyard. It wasn’t a tree found in an unexpected place. It was where it was suppose to be, it just wasn’t doing what it was suppose to be doing…bearing fruit. John the Baptist call to the crowd was, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Luke 3:8) John went on and basically said don’t rely on your heritage by birth, the Lord is looking at each heart.

The owner of the vineyard was disappointed for three years that no fruit was evident. The assumption is that his expectations were not unrealistic and the judgment he ordered was not a hasty one.

The gardener appeals for an opportunity to work on the barren tree. He suggested that he would dig around it and fertilize it and see if it would bear fruit the next year. In the role of the owner of the vineyard and the gardener we see the full aspects of the Lord’s holiness that calls for accountability and His mercy that provides for delayed judgment in anticipation of a change.

What is important to us to see is that the Lord anticipates responsiveness and fruitfulness. But in that process we are not on our own. He is for us and working in us. This role of Jesus as the “gardener” or “vine-dresser”  reminds us of John 15 when we see the work of the Lord pruning and working to make fruitful and productive.

So, today make a commitment to growth and fruitfulness. That may be responding in faith to the Lord as a commitment to follow Him; it may be a commitment to growing in the Lord, seeking to fulfill His purpose in your life. If the Lord is “turning up the soil” in your life, know that it is for your good.