I realize that the Lord is the "Chief Fruit Inspector," however the Bible says that Jesus gave gifts to His church, (Eph. 4:11) He gave, Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers and Evangelist. This is the tier leadership roles in the church. these leaders responsibility is to edify, build up, encourage and help to mature the body of Christ. The ultimate goal being that the saints will grow up and reflect the character of Christ. We are to be transformative in our thinking and bear the fruit These grown up mature members are to be trees of righteousness, stand firm in their beliefs and doctrine that they have been taught. We are to be witnesses that will bring in the harvest and lost sheep in the world.
Unfortunately, some members of the body have become stagnant and unproductive.. Hebrews 5: 12 says this: "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food." For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
In Luke 13, we find that the owner of this tree was frustrated and perhaps angry at the lack of productivity of this fig tree. The tree did not live up to its promise. It was suppose to have some fruit on it by now; especially since the owner took great liberty to tend to it diligently for three years!
Pastoring, evangelizing, teaching and mentoring can be exhaustive work. and sometimes the reward of your sacrifice pays very little dividends. If you read Paul's letters to the church at Philippi and Galatia, you can compare the results of the response these two churches manifested after Paul left them in the hands of the elders he appointed to oversee them. With the Philippians, he received a good report concerning how they were getting along and growing in their faith. He commended them because of their love and care for him, when he visited them. Paul expressed his love for them, and they in turn showed tangibly/monetary gifts that they gave to him.
However, the Chruch at Galatia was a different story. Paul was upset that after he had spent some time sowing the Word into their hearts, they allowed other false teachers to come in and sow discord and false teachings among the bretheran. To paraphrase, and this is the Lydia Ford version, Paul essentially said, " Hey guys, you started off well, your grasped the message of the gospel, however now I hear that you have taken ten steps backward. Who in the world has cast a spell on you, Why did you allow those witches to come in and seduce you?" What kind of Kool-Aid are you drinking now."
Thank God for the fruit of self-control and patience. Moses had it and so did Paul. I guess that is why the Lord blessed me to become and elementary school teacher, because He knew that I would be a founding pastor and it would take lots of love, patience, determination, and steadfastness to stay the course. Some times leaders have to keep saying the same thing over and over before the people get an understanding.
I believe that is why I am such a proponent of mentorship. I believe strongly in small group instruction, cell groups or whatever you call them. In this text, the keeper of the vineyard said to the owner, and I paraphrase using my own version: " I know that this tree has disappointed you. It is jacked up, messed up, tore up from the floor up!" I is suppose to have some fruit on it, but as you can see, it has none." But tell you what I will do; I will take this baby under my wings, dig around it fertilize it, nurture it, water it and if after a years time, it still fails to produce fruit, you can cut it down.
The owner agreed to his terms and let it alone. This morning, just before praying, I happened to look on my sofa table at the plants that are sitting in front of my picture window. Last year all four of the plants looked pitiful. Most of them were pot bound. Their leaves had lost their green luster. My Christmas cactus yielded very few blossoms. The stems were barren and mostly sticks. I bought some bigger pots, changed the soil, dug around the soil to make sure the water would get to the roots and left them in the window to see how they would fare after I made those changes.
To my delight, all of the plants have renewed themselves, they are thriving and producing more leaves and blossoms. the green luster in the leaves is back. I am glad that I didn't have to ditch them and buy some new ones. Occasionally I talk to them.
Some of us in the body of Christ, need some TLC. Left to ourselves, we would have been good for nothing, or good as dead. But thank God, there are people, leaders in the body of Christ, who are willing to take you under their wings. There are some who go looking for fruit in the least likely of places. Guess what? Fruit is not always found in the church pews. There are trees, plants, and people with potential our in the world. I think that is where the phrase: "GO YE THEREFORE INTO ALL THE WORLD, COMES INTO PLAY."
Leaders must be willing to stir up the gifts in the individuals, to till the soil of their spirit, to give spiritual impartation, and anoint them into their divine purpose. It is difficult at times to find the (1) in the masses or crowds. We must be willing to go to that one lost sheep, loner, set aside one or kicked to the curb one, and prophesy, "You shall yet live and not die!" Leaders there is gold, silver and bronze in the lives of God's children. Your Timothy, Titus, Jonathan, Silas, Ruth, Esther etc might be hidden among thorns, in ash heaps, or among many taller cedars in the woods. Everyone has "Worth." Go and find that someone. Give them the "Best of Your Service." Your Master Jesus, Requires that of You and Me.