KEY THOT: In this parable, the owner of the vineyard is God and the fig tree is a picture of God’s people (old and new covenant). The gardener (vinedresser) may refer to Christ’s intervention on behalf of the fig tree. The point of this parable is that God is seeking for fruitfulness in His people. He did not just come to bless us, but that we might be a blessing to others. God’s people should not seek only to be blessed but also to be a blessing. A fruit is a three-fold blessing to the owner for its fragrance, its flesh and its seed. The fragrance reminds us of the fruitfulness of a Christ-like character. The flesh itself reminds us of our free service consumed by others—the good works we do in the homes, offices, and campuses for our family, colleagues and classmates. The seed reminds us of our missional ministry of multiplication of life—namely in soul-winning. While character and service are good fruits, but it must be completed with multiplication of the seed. Otherwise, we will become seedless fruits that cannot reproduce.
So, God is looking for fruitfulness (character, service and soul-winning): in truth, the three dimensions of fruitfulness cannot be separated. It’s impossible to only have the fruit of character and service without soul-winning. In fact, the more likely scenario is that the more we are like Christ in our character, the more we are likely to serve others and also save others through the Gospel. For Jesus has said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). If we are true followers (disciples) of Christ, the ultimate fruit is the fishing of the lost for Christ.
As we launch another round of Alpha, it’s time to consider if we are truly fruitful in terms of multiplication. In the Scripture, the words “fruitful” and “multiply” often come together: “And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:22; cf with Gen 1:28; 8:17; 9:1, 7; 17:20; 28:3; 35:11; 48:4; Lev. 26:9; Jer. 23:3; Ezek. 36:11). The point I’m making is that we cannot call ourselves “fruitful” if we do not “multiply”. A sober assessment of our fruitfulness for God is: “How many relatives, friends, colleagues, classmates have I led to Christ?” The easiest and most basic thing we can do is simply to share our testimony with pre-believers and to invite them to church or to Alpha or some other evangelistic events. So far, the best platform to invite others is Alpha.
The ultimate purpose of a fruit is multiplication. While humans or animals may be attracted to its fragrance and enjoy eating its flesh, the goal is dispersal of the seed in the fruit, so that another generation of the same plants may arise from the seed. So it’s the same with spiritual fruitfulness.
God is looking for fruitfulness in our lives--not just character and service but also multiplication of our lives in others. If we remain fruitless, we are in spiritual danger of being "cut down" (interpreted this phrase however you want--but it's definitely not something we want to happen to us).
Father, help us to be fruitful and multiply that we might glorify You and please You. Amen.