Last Monday we started "Rooted" - a look into plant analogies and parables. We explored the protections God offers and our need to be diligent in protecting our vineyards.
But why? Why is it so important to protect those vines? How does a protected, blossoming vineyard apply to my life?
What is the purpose of tending a garden? Fruit. If you plant an apple tree, what do you expect? Apples! If you spend the early summer hoeing rows you expect to glean something for your efforts.
The Bible tells us that apart from God (the vine) we (the branches) cannot bear fruit. Without being in Him it is a bit like when you put the sweet potato in water in elementary school. Sure, its very interesting to watch it sprout roots and possibly even green shoots ... but then what? If you leave it sitting in that cup of water on the windowsill you won't soon be having baked sweet potatoes for dinner.
Great. We need to be in Him to bear fruit ... but again, why? For one thing, we are told in Matthew 7:16 that we will be known by our fruit. If you find a pear hanging from a branch in your yard ... you can be pretty sure that you have a pear tree (there are some exceptions to this, and the Bible addresses grafting too ... but lets leave that for another day).
And what if your fruit is shriveled? Tasteless? Worm-eaten? There are consequences when God pours into us and we don't abide in Him and bear fruit.
Have you ever had a fruit tree that didn't bear fruit? Some trees require another tree of the same species nearby in order to be pollinated to bear fruit. Perhaps some nutrient is missing in the soil. In Texas we've recently had a severe drought and many trees became sickly or even died.
But when we abide in God He will provide all that we need to bear Him fruit.
In one of the harsher stories about Jesus (not a parable mind you) He was hungry on the road from Bethany. He saw a fig tree in the distance and began looking for fruit. I find it especially telling that Mark's gospel points out that it wasn't even the season for figs. Jesus told the tree no one would eat from it again and the next time they saw the tree it had withered from the root up.
There are no excuses for a Christian's life to be fruitless. I could say that it isn't my season to be focused on bearing fruit because I am busy with two small children. Ha! They ARE my fruit, my mission field.
Jesus expects fruit from us no matter what season of life we are in.
In Isaiah, God tells of tending His vineyard - Israel. He cared very well for it, yet it gave Him worthless fruit.
He literally tore down her walls and let her be trampled. He removed His provision, His protection, and His tending from the fruitless people. The Lord will visit His vineyard looking for fruit. He has provided everything you need. What will you give Him?
Yet sweet friends, there is hope. Jesus tells a parable of a fig tree that is not bearing fruit. Perhaps the withered fig inspired Him ... perhaps He told it to comfort his disciples who saw Him curse the fruitless, leafy fig along the road.
The owner of the vineyard came looking for fruit, and finding none says that the fig is a waste of space. But the vineyard-keeper appeals to Him to let him have another year to care for it.
If you are still alive and breathing, there is still a chance for you to have a fruitful life. God is just and righteous and Holy ... and He is a God of second chances. Please don't test Him and wait for the owner of the vineyard to return looking for fruit ... ask Him to examine your life now and help you abide in Him and bear good fruit. The ax is already laid ...