Let us suppose you own an olive orchard. Let us also suppose I am your Arborist and head Gardener. Let us suppose that this olive orchard is your soul means of income, your entire livelihood depends upon it. It feeds your family and makes your whole living. I coordinate its commerce. I attend to watering, fertilization, pruning, cleaning, cultivation as well as harvesting, packaging, transportation, and sales. You, for your part, entrust all care and attendance of your orchard to me. Got the picture?  So today you come to inspect your orchard and as you and walk the 25 acres of olive trees we discuss their beautiful condition, sales prices, and cost of maintenance etc. As we walk along, we come the end of a row and there stands a tree with a white ribbon around it. It has been a useless tree for three full years, and this will make the third time we have talked about this tree. It has no olives on it. Oh, its pruned and dressed and gets extra fertilizer and plenty of nutrients and lots of water…it just doesn’t ever produce a single olive.

I wonder how many of you would say “Malcolm, I have been waiting for 3 years and you have done everything possible to get this tree to produce fruit. It is costing me money, returning nothing, producing nothing, and taking food off the table of my children…why don’t you just cut it down and replace it with a new one? [Luke 13:6-9] As you read that text take notice of verse 7 “cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?” How sobering is this verse!? How does it apply to us? First, let us put ourselves into the parable. Suppose we were that tree with no fruit. We occupy precious space in the orchard and we drink in the water and absorb the fertilizer. We enjoy the pruning and care and gentle hand of the arborists in attending to our every need.

For all this we are still unwilling to produce olives for our master. Of what use is the tree? It just soaks up water and nutrients, but it has decided that the other trees must produce the olives. It has no desire, no concern, no intention of producing olives. Our master has been expecting us to produce fruit, and it is his reasonable right. We occupy his orchard. We live by his providence. But then imagine me, as your arborist, saying “Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it and dung it”. That is our Lord’s mercy on display. The tree has been fruitless but, our Lord is merciful and asks for leniency and gentleness another year also. Verse 9 “And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shall cut it down”. Friend, is there any doubt that God has been merciful and at our Lord Jesus’ request has shown patience with us? To give us time to produce olives {to show our witness, share the precious gospel of salvation to all who will hear it}. Oh, I deserve to be cut down! Do you also? Have we done what we could for Jesus? Have we witnessed as much as we could have? Thank our gentle Lord Jesus for his tender compassion to give us time to come to the fruit bearing season of our lives? I invite you to come to Calvary and let the Lord prune, dig, and water your life at Calvary Baptist Church 703 E Gillespie St on the Loop. www.Calvarybcpalestine.com