Read: Luke 13:6-9

If it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down. (v. 9)

“You had your chance, and you still haven’t delivered!” Ever said something like that? The results you expected just weren’t forthcoming. You gave the offender another chance, and then another. Finally, your patience ran out. No more second chances.

For three years the landowner has been coming to his vineyard at harvest time, expecting to find fruit. But the fig tree seemingly is sterile. Finally, the landowner has had enough. Why should this unproductive tree go on stealing sun and space, water and nutrition? “Cut it down!” he says to the gardener. But the gardener begs for one last chance to coax the tree into production. He asks for a stay of execution: “Sir, let it alone this year also.” Like Abraham interceding for the city of Sodom, so the gardener wins a reprieve for the unproductive fruit tree.

Jesus the gardener doesn’t give up on us. He doesn’t give up on you, me, or the church, despite our frustrating lack of fruit. There is a lot of hope in this parable—don’t cut down the tree. But there is also urgency—just one more year! The deadline has been pushed back. We’ve been spared the ax. But with this new opportunity there had better come a new seriousness. We are on trial right now, today. God expects fruit from his fruit trees. “If it should bear fruit next year, well and good,” says the gardener. “But if not, you can cut it down.” —Lou Lotz

Prayer: Lord, help me to produce the fruits of righteousness.