We have reached the end of one year and the beginning of another. As a church, we have also reached the end of our first century of ministry and are beginning the next.
Many of us take an inventory of our lives at this point; we may remember our failures, learn from them and then put them behind us. Apostle Paul said: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal…” (Philippians 3:13-14)
When we consider our failures, we must be honest and deliberate. In particular, we must look at our fruitfulness for the Lord. In Jesus’ story of the fig tree, there are three things to keep in mind.
Firstly, this parable applies to our Christian lives in retrospect. The owner of the vineyard is God the Father, the vinedresser is our Lord Jesus Christ and the fruit-bearing plants are us — the Christians.
Have we borne fruit for our Lord in the springtime of our lives? Or did we misuse those golden months of our youth? Did we bear fruit as young adults, giving God the first and best of our strength, or did we allow sin to consume the strength of our early manhood and womanhood?
As middle-aged adults do we still allow our years to be eaten up by worldliness? Are we a half-century old by the calendar but still spiritual babies? These are questions we need to ask ourselves — and answer honestly — as we consider our lives in retrospect.
Secondly, we must note the words of Jesus as he interceded on our behalf with God the Father: “Lord… leave it alone for one more year. I’ll dig around it and fertilise it.”
Do you see the Lord’s great mercy here? How often has He given us a second chance? We must view this year as a grant from God’s infinite grace. Time belongs to God and only His mercy holds back the axe of justice. Shall we insult God’s mercy by giving Him less than our best in the coming year?
Thirdly, there is an implication of the limit of God’s grace and patience. The vinedresser asked for a reprieve of no longer than one year. Even when Jesus is the pleader, the request of mercy has its limits.
Let us ask ourselves if this year is our last. Are we prepared to hear the midnight cry, “Here is the bridegroom!”?
Some of us had friends and family members for whom this was their last year. This parable should really shake any Christian who is giving less than his or her best to the Lord.
Now is the time to obey the commands of our Lord, for we have no assurance of tomorrow. “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:1)
Pastor Joseph Hovsepian