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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#1083. Dig around the tree in the hope of fruit (21/6/24)

This week in our Luke series, we are focussing on Luke 13:1-9. Today, from Luke 13:6-9, we reflect on God’s patience with people and how He wants to inspire us to be involved in helping people to become fruitful. 

‘Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig-tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig-tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil? Sir,” the man replied, leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig round it and fertilise it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.”’ (Luke 13:6-9)

Lesson: Are we allowing the revelation of God’s patient mercy, and the promise of His coming judgement to inspire us to ‘dig and fertilise’ in patient and active mission?


To listen to this devotional, follow the link below: 


In this final section of the parable of the unfruitful tree that we are looking at today, we are seeing a revelation of the patience and mercy of God. As God looks on fruitless people - those who don’t know Him - and Christians who are less fruitful than they could be, He is patient with them. Regarding those who are outside of the faith, we read: 

‘The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’ (2 Peter 3:9) 

Here, we have a comparison between the owner of the tree, the gardener. The owner is less patient. He wants the tree to be cut down. He represents the temptation to impatience. He is like us when we are impatient with others and even with ourselves. This man condemns the fruitless tree. We must beware of becoming like this man. Yes, he’s correct and within his rights, but He lacks the mercy of God as displayed in the gardener. The gardener is like Jesus who is patient with people. With non-believers in particular, He is wanting them to come to know Him - event the ‘worst of sinners’!


This parable is also an urgent warning that we are to be actively involved in mission - to dig round the trees - dig round the people in our lives. Christ working in us wants us to ‘dig round it and fertilise it’ through praying and sharing. 


One of the important ‘fruits’ - attributes - that God wants to develop in us, is patience. This parable expresses the patience of God. However, let’s notice, it’s not a passive patience. The gardener in our story not only urges that destruction be put off, he also actively says, “I’ll dig round it and fertilise it”. 


In the realm of mission. As we seek to bring non-believer to Jesus, are we merciful, patient and active? Do we hope that they’ll come to Christ someday whilst failing to pray, serve, invest and invite? 


In the realm of family life, do we hope that our children will come to Christ but are we failing to ‘husband’ the soil of their hearts in the right way? Do we do all that we can to teach them the gospel and put them under the influence of the word and godly people? Our children may want us to neglect their growth, we may be tempted to think that this will win them, but God’s wisdom teaches us active patience. 


Response

Are we allowing the revelation of God’s patient mercy, and the promise of His coming judgement to inspire us to ‘dig and fertilise’ in patient and active mission? God presents His patience in this parable, but it does come to an end! and it ends in judgement. So let’s be inspired to share the gospel because God is merciful and patient. However, let’s also be inspired to urgent mission by God’s promise of judgement. Let’s finish our reflections of this section with these words:

‘And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’ (1 Corinthians 13:13)

As we ‘dig and fertilise’, let’s have ‘faith’ that God can save and make people fruitful; As we ‘dig and fertilise’, let’s have ‘hope’ that God can save and make people fruitful; As we ‘dig and fertilise’, let’s be fuelled by ‘love’ - the kind of love that Jesus has for the lost. 

 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY


1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News. 


2. Icebreaker

How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you? 


3. Worship together

Let’s begin our time together by lifting our eyes and hearts to worship our great God. Perhaps you have readings and songs that you would like to use together. Let’s be open to the gifts that the Spirit wants to give in order to encourage one another.


4. Study and pray together

Our message on Sunday was entitled, How to become a fruitful tree. In this section, we see how we are to become fruitful trees and help others to become fruitful trees through ‘digging and fertilising’. 


Please read Luke 13:1-9, and discuss: 


  • What would you say is the main message and application of  Luke 13:1-9? 

  • Did God speak to you about anything specifically from Sunday’s message?

  • What is the shared lesson and application of the three parabolic stories of Pilate’s killings, the falling tower and the unfruitful tree? 

  • In what specific ways are you prone to self-righteousness and pride? 

  • Who is The Parable of the unfruitful tree aimed at? and why can’t it be, principally, about Christians (See 1 John 3:9-10, Luke 6:43-45)?

  • How is a Christian to apply this parable of the unfruitful tree?

  • SIV - How can ‘digging round the tree and fertilising it’ be applied to how we seek to bring people to Jesus?

  • SIV - Do we have any stories of how we have ‘Served, Invested, and inVited’ recently?

  • SIV - Spend some time together talking and praying about who and how you are seeking to bring your community to Jesus. 

  • Let’s pray together that, this week, we will have opportunities to SIV; and pray for anything else that's come out of our time in God’s Word.

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