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Jul 28, 2019

Short Stories, Big Lessons: Fig Trees

Short Stories, Big Lessons: Fig Trees

Passage: Luke 13:6-9

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Series: Short Stories, Big Lessons

Category: Faith, Love, kindness

Keywords: love, fig trees, short stories

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to produce not just for ourselves but for others. We are blessed to be a blessing to others and shown love so that we may go out and love.


Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
- Luke 13: 6-9


As I prepared for our six-day mission trip to Sneedville this year, I asked my neighbor to “love on” my plants while I was away. Understand, my plants consist of two sad and puny pots of flowers from Walmart, ones most gardeners would certainly throw out, while my neighbor’s yard is filled with all sorts of beautiful, thriving plants. She responded that she does water mine once in a while when they look thirsty, but that she would pay extra attention to them while I was gone. When I returned from Tennessee on that Friday evening, beautiful, full, healthy pots of flowers greeted me at the doorstep! 

Initially, when we read this parable it can feel disheartening, even harsh. The owner is angry, the gardener pleads for another chance. Had he been neglectful, or simply overloaded with too many responsibilities? When I asked my neighbor to “love on” my plants, I meant for her to spend a little time and extra attention on them. We know folks with a “green thumb” are really those who make it a priority to care for their plants, to feed, water, prune, and in some cases even to talk to their plants! To “love on” something or someone means to shower with attention, to give great care, to devote the time doing the things necessary to foster a healthy life. And when that happens, the result is obvious in the fruit or flowers, or in the thriving, fully alive person or relationship.

This is also a prescription of how we grow ourselves spiritually, and our relationship with God; intentionally making the time to be with God, to give God our attention, soaking in all that God has to offer. Our focus is not simply on keeping our relationship alive, “wasting soil” but on thriving and bearing fruit. Fruit, like flowers, is clearly seen on the doorstep, in the home and the community, in how we relate and love others as we love God and allow God to “love on” us. While the parable of the fig tree is open-ended, we can imagine our own conclusion that with focus, time and attention that fig tree went on to provide beautiful fruit. 


Great and loving God, today slow me down to focus on you. Open my heart and mind to feel how much you always love me, love on me, and desire for me to accept your love. Help me to soak in that love so that it produces great and beautiful love for others. Amen.

Written by Betsy Hudson, Director of Grow Ministries, proud Virginia native and UVA alumna. She is gearing up for what she hopes to be her final year at Wesley Seminary in Washington, DC, where she will graduate with a Master of Divinity.