Sweat and Stink
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
- Luke 13:6-9
The caretaker of the vineyard has in mind the original vision of the Owner, that the fig tree would produce fruit. So he advocates for the fig tree (some people call this prayer). He also rolls up his sleeves.
When the caretaker says he’ll take another year to “dig around it and fertilize it” he’s talking about hard work. And he’s talking about manure - that’s what fertilizer was in the first century, in case you didn’t know. Sweat and stink. That’s what it takes to produce fruit.
Frankly, I wish fruitfulness was easy. I wish marriage was easy. I wish fighting injustice was easy. I wish my friendships were easy. I wish my job was easy. I wish that parenting was easy. I wish that my relationship with God was easy. I wish that personal growth and spiritual maturity were easy. But they aren’t! None of them are! They all take sweat and stink (and don’t forget, time). So maybe today is the day you need to face the reality that the fruitfulness you want in your life is not easy - you’re going to have to work at it, and sometimes it’s going to stink.
Talk with Jesus about what he’s stirring up in you through these ideas today.
Finally, talk with Jesus about the elections today and about the sweat and stink needed to grow a more fruitful nation. (here are some reflections on the midterm elections if you’d like to read them)