Jesus told about 50 parables, which are stories to help us understand important things. One of them is a story about a fig tree. In the story a man had a fig tree planted. After three years he noticed the tree was still not bearing any fruit. He gave instructions to his caretaker to cut the tree down so it wouldn’t be taking up space anymore. The caretaker asked for one more year in which he would dig around the roots and fertilize it to see if it helped (Luke 13:6-9). The story is part of a larger context where Jesus is talking about the need of repentance. Some people then didn’t think they had anything to repent about. Jesus was very up front with his audience as he let them know we all are sinners and in need of repenting.
The parable demonstrates the inevitable fact that we will all answer to God. He knows our motives and sees whether there is the fruit of true repentance in our lives. The story also highlights the incredible grace of the Lord Jesus as he ask for more time so that we can respond. He takes the initiative to dig around and fertilize so that there can be fruit. How wonderful is his mercy!
I have met people over the years who are offended by the idea of being called a sinner. The Bible sees all of us as sinners. We are either forgiven sinners or sinners who have not yet repented. Paul writes in the letter to the Romans “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). It is the idea that our lives are like an arrow that has missed the target, which is the perfection of God. Jesus makes it very clear that sin is universal and it brings death—eternal death. We are all guilty and therefore in need of repentance.
Repentance is not an emotional experience that proves you are sorry. It may be that, but that is not the proof. Repentance is not some kind of penance where you pay for your sins. Repentance is a true change of mind, heart and attitude which is reflected in a change of actions and a departure of previous sinful conduct.
If there is no fruit of repentance in your life, then please see the time you have as God’s grace given you as the opportunity to repent and ask God for his forgiveness. To ignore the guilt and sin in our lives is utter folly. To receive God’s forgiveness is the best decision we will ever make.