It’s autumn. As I write, it doesn’t look too mellow outside, though – rain is belting down hard. Mind you, don’t people say that the farmers need the rain?
In the past few weeks I have preached at a couple of church Harvest Sundays. (The photo is from one of the displays). I’ve preached on stories Jesus told about fruitfulness. The famous parable of the sower and the less well known parable of the fruitless fig tree.
Here are four fairly simple observations about fruit and fruitfulness.
- Sometimes there is no fruit. Like in the story of the fig tree. We used to live in a house that had two apple trees in the back garden. One year, only one of the trees produced apples. The other had plenty of leaves, but no apples – at least it was a sign of life, but that particular year that particular tree was either taking a sabbatical or it was failing to do what it was meant to do. Part of the point of Christian living is to be fruitful, to demonstrate evidence that God is working in us and through us.
- Sometimes there is bad fruit. Bitter apples, sour grapes. It happened in the Old Testament. When God looked at the lives of his people (he called them his vineyard), he found the wrong kinds of fruit. How often do some of our lives produce bitterness instead of forgiveness and grace? Or cynicism and complaining instead of gratitude?
- Sometimes the problem is distraction. That’s what Jesus talked about in his parable of the sower. There are thorns that choke the vitality of the good seed. He mentioned worries, wealth and pleasures. How many of us limit our spiritual effectiveness because of our failure to deal with distractions?
- The True Vine is Jesus. Learn to abide in him.