Why not cut the fig tree down? It hasn’t produced any fruit for three years. How long should we wait anyhow? How much more time should we put into that tree and why?
What if, instead of a fig tree, it was me they were asking about, or you? Why not cut us down? Have we produced anything for the kingdom in a long time? How long does God have to wait? How much more time does God need to give us?
I read a blog this week that put it this way—Jesus said, “No!” What if we believed that every bad thing that ever happened to anyone was because they had done something wrong and God was punishing them? What if we said that what happened to them happened because they deserved it? What if we said that about those who live in Haiti or Chile, or Darfur, or Sudan? Would we dare speak those words out loud? What would God say then? What would God’s answer be? Pastor Roddy Hamilton said, “God would weep.”
Why do we think that way? What makes us think that our God would do that? The God I read about, the God I worship is a God who loves and cares for all his children. If God did punish us that way who would be left here to worship him on the Sabbath? I wouldn’t be here, I know that for certain.
But, and Jesus did put a but in there, if you and I don’t change, if we don’t repent of our sinful ways and thinking, then God will in fact cut us down and burn us up. If we keep on neglecting our neighbors who can’t pay their rent or clean their sidewalks or buy their groceries then our lives may lead to only one place and that’s death, not life. That sounds pretty harsh but that’s what Jesus is saying. Oh, he may have been speaking to those who were in power in his day but he was also talking to his disciples, and to us, and warning all of the dangers of thinking more highly of themselves than others. Friends, there, but for the grace of God, goes you and me.
I believe today’s lesson for all of us is really about patience. We know God is patient with us but have we learned to be patient with our neighbors? We’re none of us probably as patient as we should be.
Maybe that rose bush in my flower bed just needs a little more manure and a little more time. Maybe you and I need a little more “manure” and a little more time too.
The next time you ask yourself “why” don’t they do this or “why” didn’t they do that remember the fig tree and Jesus words after the parable. Remember Paul’s words to the Romans, There is no difference between us and them for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (3:23).
Friends, thanks be to God for his patient grace. Amen.