Lessons from the Fig Tree
Every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree. Zechariah 3:10
Beloved of the Lord, if we are going to invite our neighbors to come and sit under our spiritual fig tree and receive spiritual refreshing might we dare consider what is required to tend to the fig tree to make it appealing enough for others to want to come and sit beneath? Let’s take a look at the care of the fig tree and draw some spiritual applications. The fig was the third tree mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 3:7) after the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9) so we know it was in the Garden of Eden. In Biblical passages, to sit under the fig tree (as well as the vine) is the epitome of prosperity, safety, peace, and wellbeing.
The fig tree is a deciduous, fast-growing, tree that produces wonderfully sweet fruit. Like most fruiting plants, the fig tree must receive plenty of nourishment from the sun. Before these trees can begin producing fruit, they must first achieve their proper growth. If you own a fig tree and decide to cut it back to keep it small, your fig will not produce fruit. Because it is drought tolerant, it implies it must have deep roots. Another thought to consider is if your fig tree receives significant damage due to a harsh winter, it will not produce fruit.
On to the big topic of pruning. If a fig tree is going to produce good fruit, it cannot escape pruning. This should occur every winter, and after the coldest part of the winter has passed. There are four things to consider when pruning your fig tree. Firstly, the branches underneath that spread out from the bottom never get enough light for them to fruit so they must be removed.
Secondly, the root suckers that tunnel underground and pop up around the perimeter of the tree need to be cut off because they do not fruit well and end up taking energy from the plant needlessly.
Thirdly, any old branch and especially dead and diseased branches need to be pruned all the way to the base of the plant.
Finally, any part of the plant you notice that did not fruit should be marked so that you may prune that branch in winter because it never will fruit. Any energy directed to branches that do not fruit will reduce the amount of fruit on branches that will fruit.
Spiritually, the Lord intends for us to produce good, not worthless fruit (Isaiah 5:2). For this to occur, we will require ‘pruning’ (John 15:2) and nurturing similar to the fig tree. Have you considered pruning to be a positive event in your life (Isaiah 5:6)? We must grow in the Lord (Ephesians 4:13,15) and receive plenty of nourishment from the Son (John 15:4) if we intend to produce good fruit. Do your roots go deep in the Lord or do you need continual assurances? When fierce trials come about do you seek the shelter of the Lord or do you allow your soul to receive the frost-bitten effects of the harshest cold the fiercest person or trial can dish out? If you do not seek the Lord’s nurturing shelter (Psalm 5:11, 27:5, 31:20, 55:8, 61:4, 119:14, 121:5, 142:5), your fruit will bear the marks.
Just as any branch on the fig tree lacking sufficient sunlight must be removed, we too must remain in the Son if we intend to produce fruit (John 15:4). Fig tree branches, not fruiting well must be removed because they diminish resources from the good branches. We too must not allow our energy to be expended in fruitless or sour endeavors but instead be focused on fruitful efforts that bring glory to God. Therefore, any ‘branch’ in us that does not ‘fruit’ at the expected time should no longer receive our energies.
Thank you, Lord, for equipping me with the ability to offer spiritual refreshing to my neighbor. Your word says that the one who delights in Your instruction will be like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither. I desire my fruit to be life for those around me. In Jesus name, I pray, amen.
In His grace,