What Will We Produce This Year?

    It’s once again the time of year that many eagerly await the coming of the New Year.  A new year brings with it excitement for new things and opportunities and also challenges.  It’s during this time of year that so many make the famous New Year Resolutions.  Recent studies showed that only 45% of Americans actually make resolutions and only 8% are successful in keeping them.

    As we approach this new year what are we going to put our focus on and what will our resolution be?  What about Psalm 37:1-8 as a guide.  “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.”

    While speaking to a very large crowd of disciples Jesus gave a simple parable to illustrate everyone’s need for repentance.  While that is the main focus there is another great application that we can draw from this same parable.

   “And he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, 'Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?' And he answered him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'"

(Luke 13:6-9)

    Ask yourself what we have produced in the last year.  2015 came and went so quickly that it begs the question what did I accomplish for the Lord in the last year that He blessed us with.  Like that tree planted by its owner we have a purpose and that is to glorify God in every aspect of our lives.

    Consider some lessons from that barren tree:

It Had the Same Care

         The tree not bearing fruit was not a result of less or inadequate care.  It’s evident that the tree had received the same care as all the other plants in the vineyard and at the vinedresser’s request would even receive some additional care.

It Had the Same Resources

    The tree not bearing fruit was not a result of lack of resources or proper resources.  The owner’s complaint was that it was wasting the resources being provided to it.

It Was Surrounded By Other Fruit Bearing Vines and Possibly Trees

    The Tree not bearing fruit was not because it wasn’t capable.  This tree was surrounded by the other vines and possibly other trees that made up the vineyard that were obviously bearing fruit.

The Owner’s Decision What the RIGHT Decision

    The conclusion the owner came to as a result of years of not producing any fruit was the RIGHT decision despite what we’d often like to think.

    Let’s again ask ourselves the question, what have we produced for the Lord in the last year.  I think we can see Jesus’ point in that the Father was growing impatient with Israel and their wickedness and they needed to repent and start producing Godly fruits.  Too often I think we recognize the need to do more but we also “presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” (Rom 2:4)

    As we examine our lives maybe we realize that we are in need of repentance and re-committing ourselves to the Lord.  Maybe we have good works but like those in Ephesus deep down we’ve abandoned the love we had at first.  Maybe like Pergamum we hold fast His name but tolerate things we ought not to.  Maybe like Laodicea we aren’t on fire for the Lord but we aren’t dead cold either, just lukewarm.

   Let’s use this time, as God allows, to refocus ourselves and our lives and be people who are “…steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)