Jesus tells a parable about a barren fig tree in Luke 13:6-9. The owner of the vineyard looks at a fig tree in his garden and notes that it is not producing any fruit. In fact for three years the tree has not produced anything. The owner of the vineyard instructs the vine dresser to cut the tree down. He concludes that is should not take up space and use up the soil.
The vine dresser suggests to the vineyard owner an alternative. He says let's not give up on the tree just yet. Let me dig around it and fertilize it. If it still produces no fruit I will cut it down. The fig tree gets another chance to bear fruit.
This parable is not about fig trees but it is about us. John when he is preparing the way for Jesus tells his hearers they "should bear fruit that befits repentance". What does this look like?
First repent. You are a sinner. Jesus died for sinners. Your salvation depends on Christ alone. You can do nothing to save yourself from sin. Jesus does everything to save us from sin. Therefore you are God's precious and redeemed child. You are forgiven and loved. You are saved by grace. This is God's truth revealed in Christ. Repent.
Second: Do things God's way. You learn God's ways from the study of Scripture. The fruits of the Spirit are peace, hope, joy and love. These do not sound very productive. Still these are the gifts that change lives.
In Acts 2:46-47 the church grew because the fruits of the spirit were manifest in the lives of the believers.
You bear fruit when you are a peace maker. You are called to share the peace of God. You have peace with God because you are confident of the victory he has won for you. Nothing can separate you from the love of God. When you live a peace filled life in the midst of the chaos of a sin filled world it changes lives.
You bear fruit when you are joyful. Joy is infectious. You rejoice because you are a child of the King of Kings. You rejoice because you know the end of the story. You are victorious in Christ. "Rejoice in the Lord always" Philippians 4:4. You bear fruit when you are joyful.
You bear fruit when you share the reason for the hope you have. You need to sometime step back and assess your behavior. When people look at you would they be inclined to ask you about the reason for the hope you have? You have a sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting through Christ. You hope is sure. Do you live a hopeful life putting the best construction on things and explaining things in the kindest possible way?
You bear fruit when you love another. Paul says this is the greatest gift. He defines what it means to love in Corinthians chapter 13. John's epistle tells you that you are the beloved of God. Therefore, love one another. Self-giving love is a fruit of the Spirit. You love because you are loved by God.
The vine dresser says. "Give it one more year." This year bear fruit that befits repentance.