NASHVILLE, TN – Within a few hours of the “New Year”, some of the most famous people in the world—passed out of this world!
Question: what would you do if you knew this was your last year to live on this side of eternity? Or to put it more succinctly, how would you live if you knew you had only one more year to live—at least on earth—on this side of heaven or hell?
Jesus tells the following parable in just a few short sentences, but in those brief statements, He teaches and gives us so much to think about:
A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it, but found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, “Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and found none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground? But he answered and said to him, “Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.”
– Luke 13:6-9
New Question for the New Year: are you a fruit bearing believer? If not—then why not?
This article is simply about you. It’s about doing a major introspection of your life. It’s about understanding that you were not promised a year, or a month, or even a week to live, you were only promised today! This article is about you, examining your own life to see, if in fact, you are bearing fruit.
So, as not to be confusing, I believe there is one primary fruit of the Holy Spirit in the Christian life, that fruit is called “LOVE." Every other thing listed is an aspect of love whether it is peace or joy or gentleness. (Galatians 5)
Additionally, when Jesus is teaching his followers in the last hours of his life, He describes fruit that is to exist in the life of each believer, in this context, he discusses his own life being laid down for his friends, and that is called the greatest “LOVE” of all! (John 15)
The challenge I believe from the parable, though, is not so much about fruit as it is about the fact that we have a very limited time on this planet to do what we are supposed to do!
The vine dresser asks for one more year, and if no fruit, then—well then… cut it down—he pleads with the owner of the Vineyard, let me dig around it he says, let me fertilize it with dung”
Last question: Are you willing to let God dig around in your life and to fertilize what needs to grow in order for you to produce the fruit he made you to produce?
Some of us don’t bear fruit because we are afraid it won’t be perfect enough or we will make a mistake! Learn what some have learned from their own mistakes: “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.“ (George Bernard Shaw).
So my advice—just act! Do something!
So said Neil Gaiman—“I hope in this year to come that you make mistakes…, because if you are making mistakes, you are making new things, trying new things… Learning, living, pushing yourself, changing your life—changing your world.“
So don’t be afraid to try and try and try—and yes—fail!
“We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but we should never ever carry them forward into the new year with us .”
Lastly—Sophocles poignantly reminds us— “All men make mistakes… but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong and repairs this evil. The only crime is pride.”
True that—it may be that the greatest sin on judgment day is the sin of omission, afraid to love our neighbor, afraid to love your wife as Christ loved the church, afraid to love one another. Afraid we will make a mistake, and it will be worse. Trust me, it will never be worse!
So this year, maybe your last year, let God do what he wants to… in and through you… and bear fruit like never before!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. David L. Thompson holds an undergraduate degree from Belmont University in Psychology and Religion, a graduate degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Education, and a doctorate in Counseling and Pastoral Psychology. He has served as a chairman of the Church Planting Group and Executive Committee Chair at the North American Mission Board for 10 years. He has been a Police Chaplain since 1991 and served as a Corporate Chaplain to the Coca Cola Bottling Company in Nashville, Tennessee where he resides with his wife. He has six children and five grandsons.