Based upon the story of the unfruitful fig tree – Luke 13:6-9
There are so many things I love about Jesus! One of many is the fact that He used everyday examples to help us understand the spiritual aspect of our lives. Back in the time of Jesus, trees were symbolic of living a godly life. Throughout the entirety of Scripture there are multiple references to trees. God uses trees as a symbol of our spiritual lives not because He loves trees. I mean, He does love trees—He created them. But He uses them because they serve as a great example that He works in us to produce godly fruit.
Trees provide the framework for one biblical story Jesus tells in Luke 13:6-9. Specifically, the fig tree. The story is told in such a way as to get our attention. He wants us to understand several things, truths, that as a college student can impact your walk with God. College students, let me share with you 4 truths from the story of the unfruitful fig tree (Luke 13:6-9) as it relates to you producing godly fruit as you walk faithfully in Christ (and if you’re not a college student and you’re reading this, find a college student to share this article with—or better yet, walk through it together with them). You might want to pause here and read Luke 13:6-9 before continuing.
Truth #1: You are not your own
God has planted you. You are His. When you repent and believe, you move from being a slave to sin to being His child. And because you are now His, nothing in your life is off limits. You don’t get to pick and choose which parts of your life God has Lordship over. He works in and through you to make you more and more like His Son, Jesus Christ. He wants to use you. In fact, in Ephesians 2:10 the Apostle Paul says:
“We are God’s masterpiece, created anew in Jesus to be about good things, things that He planned for us long ago.”
Truth #2: Fruit is expected
God expects us to be fruitful. When a fruit tree is planted, there is an expectation of fruit, good fruit. When I lived in Arizona there were many fruit trees on the campus of Arizona State University. They were beautiful! But they were ornamental. They looked good and ripe on the outside, and one would expect them to be sweet and wonderful. But they were bitter and sour (as many found out)!
When God saves us, when we become born again, we not only become a new creation, we are changed from the inside out. The evidence of our new life in Christ is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). And there is an expectation for these to be present and growing in our life. God doesn’t tolerate false appearances.
Truth #3: God must prune for us to be fruitful
Those who work in nature know that pruning is a process done to fruit-bearing plants to help them grow healthy and strong. Jesus, too, desires us to be healthy and strong spiritually. God wants to get rid of the things that hinder you, as a college student, from producing healthy spiritual fruit. He trims those things from your life that hinder love and joy and peace and patience and so on. He works in you to remove the dead and the dying. He works in you to remove the infected and/or the diseased."Those who work in nature know that pruning is a process done to fruit-bearing plants to help them grow healthy and strong. Jesus, too, desires us to be healthy and strong spiritually." -@jerome_stockert #collegiatedisciplemaker… Click To Tweet
Truth #4: Lack of fruitfulness has a cause
Sometimes, when we are not producing fruit, it’s because we need to give ourselves a little extra attention or maybe apply more “fertilizer.” God is patient. But we must take seriously that fact that we are to be fruitful. A lack of fruit may mean that you are not truly a follower of Christ. Perhaps you have been going through the motions but have never truly repented and believed. Or you are a believer, but you find yourself spiritually malnourished. You need to spend more time tending to yourself spiritually and applying more spiritual fertilizer to your life by focusing on abiding in Christ through His Word and through prayer, more than you have been.
If not those two things, then a lack of spiritual fruit may be an indication that you are in the wrong place. An example of this is seen in the Mark when he was accompanying Barnabas and Paul on one of their missionary journeys. Mark, however, was not able to do the job that was expected of him, and in a moment where it became the most challenging, it became necessary for Paul to ask Mark to leave (Acts 13:13). But in God’s goodness, we see that Mark went on to author one of the books found in Scripture. He had to lose one job so that he could be set free to go and be replanted in a place where he would bear fruit.
The Kingdom is at Hand
The primary point that Jesus is making in this parable, this story, is that the time of the coming of the kingdom is at hand, and God’s patience has limits. Produce, or be cut down and replaced by another.