Are you an unfruitful fig tree?

Luke 13 6-9


Jesus and the fig treeThen 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 around it and fertilize it.  If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

Jesus gave us this parable but at first glance it seems quite harsh. If the fig tree doesn’t produce fruit chop it down. How do we explain this to children?

As a parent you want the best for your children. You don’t want them involved with people who involve them in drugs, stealing or violence.

As adults we know how easy it is to end up with the wrong crowd and one thing leads to another and you end up getting into serious trouble.

If you don’t change your ways, you will end up wasting your life.

A fig-tree that doesn’t produce fruit is not achieving it’s purpose in life.

The tree isn’t dead, it’s just there taking up space in the vineyard.

Sometimes we can be like that ‘treading water’ waiting for the right time, or the right opportunity.

But life isn’t like that – we have to go out there and find the opportunities. We need to work hard – to get to where we want to be. If we just stand and wait life will pass us by and we will look back and see the opportunities that have passed us by.

I remember a story I am not sure who wrote it by it’s about a priest who has a church that is run down, the roof is leaking, it’s cold, damp and very unwelcoming. The priest prays every day, please God help me we desperately need money, help us win the lottery. Every day he prayed the prayer. He eventually died and the church remained exactly as it was..

When he went to heaven he asked God – why didn’t you help me save your church by winning the lottery? God replied – how could I help you win the lottery? You never bought a ticket.

Or another story:-

There was a man who had a very strong faith, one day there was a flood, his house was surrounded by flood water too high for him to get out. He prayed to God ‘please God save me’. The fire brigade came along and tried to rescue him, but he told them, ‘Go away God is going to save me.’ The flood water rose higher, A boat came to help him, but he said ‘Go away, God is going to save me.’ Finally the waters rose so high he had to climb on the roof as he sat there a helicopter flew over to help him, but he still refused the help believing God would save him.

Well the man died in the flood – when he got to heaven he asked God why didn’t you save me? God replied – ‘Who do you think sent the fire brigade, the boat and the helicopter!’

A lesson for us all, we might have a strong faith but we also have to recognise a God given opportunity when it comes our way.

The man who tended the vineyard saw potential in the fig tree and wanted to give it time to grow and produce good fruit.

God also wants us to reach our potential, he has given us all gifts that he wants us to use when the opportunity arises.

When we get into difficulty God promises to be there, sending us opportunities to help turn our lives around. But we have to want to change, we have to seize the opportunities that come our way. We have to get into the boat..

Activity

To remind the children of the story - why not try figs or make fig biscuits. They are really delicious!

Michelle 
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About Michelle Bailey

Reverend Michelle Bailey is the Rural Officer for the Bishop of Brecon and Swansea  She previously worked in Children's Ministry and was ordained in the Church of England. Her blog includes ideas on presenting concepts of faith to young children to the age of eleven and furthering faith development in an educational context. Michelle currently lives in Wales and is also developing a rural ministry blog.
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