“And he told this parable: ‘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 ESV).
People wonder about discipleship, and what it means to be a disciple and make disciples. I’ve wondered those things myself. But I believe I have found the answer in this passage in Luke.
God planted the tree in the vineyard. The tree is an immature believer. God has an expectation, and not an unreasonable one, that believers bear fruit. I know! What a concept! In the parable, the master of the vineyard gave the tree some time to grow and bear fruit, but it hadn’t happened.
Too many Christians today have a consumer mentality when it comes to their faith. They love the free salvation, and the “rock-concert” atmosphere and great music; they love the coffee and donuts (Okay, I love the coffee and donuts too!), and they don’t mind throwing a twenty in basket for the experience.
It’s so easy to fall into the church-going mindset. I heard about a couple of old-timers discussing a new believer. “He sure is full of joy and zeal”, one said. The other replied, “Yeah, but give him a few months and he’ll be as stiff as you and I.”
The thing about our faith is that it’s supposed to affect every part of our lives; and it’s supposed to affect the entire duration of our lives.
“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent” (Revelation 2:4-5 ESV).
This passage reflects our opening parable perfectly. The love and the fruit are no longer there. There has to be a change.
This is where discipleship comes in. Our vinedresser entreats the vineyard owner to spare the tree “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.”
The discipler, our vinedresser, wanted a chance to nurture the immature believer, to provide extra attention and direction, teaching and mentoring, Please note, that none of this had happened in the first three years of this believer’s faith walk!
Our discipler wasn’t perfect. None of us are. Yet, we are supposed to be disciples about the business of making disciples. The vinedresser shows us that it’s not too late to start now.
The older I get, the more I think about leaving a legacy. I have no desire to be famous. I don’t care if the world knows my name. I do hope that I can make a difference in the lives of other believers, to nurture them so that they bear fruit; and then, in turn, do the same others.
And I hope the same for you.
Blessings on your day!
**Image from https://www.bibleplaces.com/fig-trees/