Of Grace and Figs

Grace.  Apart from being the name of someone’s sister, grace is a concept that is understood by many, but appreciated by few.  It’s clearest definition is: ‘Undeserved favour’ or ‘Getting what you don’t deserve’.  It’s something we need and it’s something we need to give.  People hurt us, it happens, and it’s our choice to forgive or not; to withhold grace or to give it.  You’re wounded by their words, but you extend the grace to accept an apology or to throw it back in their faces.  It’s a powerful position, because you could stay hurt, or hurt back.  Grace is really big when you view it like that.  The Bible speaks of grace so many times, and in one place, in the book of Romans, Paul writes about God’s grace being present where there is sin.  Where sin abounds, grace abounds.  Where God sees our mistakes, He offers the undeserved favour of His forgiveness, as a practical expression of that grace.  It truly is amazing, just like the hymn suggests!

Often times we read the new testament (perhaps the whole Bible?) and find things we just can’t get our heads around.  Tough concepts that seem so confusing.  Jesus helped his disciples out in Luke 13 with a story that speaks about grace.  Jesus was talking to them about whether bad things happen to good people because of their sin, and Jesus says no.  He wants to stress the importance of acknowledging that our lives are wrecked by our sin and bad choices and that we need to acknowledge our need to be forgiven; the need to accept God’s grace. He then tells them this, the story of grace and figs:

A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’

We deserve to be ‘cut down’!  It’s right there, in the parable.  But we aren’t.  We are given another chance.  Jesus wants his disciples to know the importance of making that first decision to accept the offer of God’s grace.  And now it’s a reminder for us too.  We are given the freedom to choose, but one day the time to choose will be up, and we simply don’t know when that time will be; we simply don’t!  Don’t delay to receive the gift of God’s grace, extended to you.  I love that there’s time offered, and interestingly, grace is extended to followers of Jesus too, to use opportunities to share the Truth with others.  The grace is everywhere and should never be abused. Saying stuff like “I’ll do it when I’m older’ or ‘it’s not for me right now’ sounds like the need for this grace is not fully understood.  Look for opportunities to give grace, and never miss out on the opportunity given to you to receive it, and anyway – it’s free!

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