“Think on These Things” is a column written by retired Creston pastor Ian Cotton
Part two of The Fig Tree: Spare it this Year Also
Jesus did not in the parable of the fig tree tell the result of the gardener’s work. Luke 13:6-9. Its conclusion rested with those who heard His words.
To them, the solemn warning was given. “If not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.” Upon them, it depended on whether the irrevocable words should be spoken.
The day of wrath was near. In the calamities that had already befallen Israel, the owner of the vineyard was mercifully forewarning them of the destruction of the unfruitful tree.
The warning sounds down to us today. Are you a fruitless tree in the Lord’s vineyard? Shall the words of doom be spoken of you? How long has God watched and waited for a return of love? How often has the tender gospel message thrilled your heart!
You have taken the name of Christ and yet you are conscious of no living connection with the great heart of love. Are the sweet fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience – seen in your life?
The barren tree receives the rain, the sunshine and the gardener’s care. It draws nourishment from the soil. But it’s unproductive boughs only darken the ground, so that fruit-bearing plants cannot flourish in its shadow.
So God’s gifts, lavished on you, convey no blessing to the world. Are you robbing others of privileges that, but for you, might be theirs?
In His great mercy, God has not cut you down. He does not look coldly upon you. He does not turn away with indifference, or leave you to destruction. Looking upon you He cries, as He cried so many centuries ago concerning Israel, “How shall I give thee up? I will not return to destroy Ephraim; for I am God, and not man.” Hosea 11:8, 9.
The pitying Saviour is saying concerning you, spare it this year also, till I shall dig about it and fertilize it.
With unwearied love, Christ ministered to Israel during the period of added probation. Upon the cross He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:24.
After His ascension, the gospel was preached first at Jerusalem. There the holy spirit was poured out. There the first gospel church revealed the power of the risen saviour.
All that heaven itself could give was bestowed. “What could have been done more to my vineyard,” Christ said, “that I have not done in it?” Isaiah 5:4. So His care and labour for you are not lessened, but increased. Still, He says, “I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment; lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.” Isaiah 27:3.
“If it bear fruit, well; and if not, then … ” The heart that does not respond to divine agencies becomes hardened until it is no longer susceptible to the influence of the holy spirit. Then it is that the word is spoken, “Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?”
Today, He invites you: ” return unto the Lord thy God… . I will heal your backsliding, I will love you freely… . From Me is thy fruit found.” Hosea 14:1-8.
Adapted from Christ Object Lessons