By Adauto Rezende
Sometimes problems come when we take too much care of fruitless trees
“Then he told this parable: "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.'" Luke 13: 6-9
“And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Mathew 3: 10
The fruitless mango tree in my yard
After decades without producing fruit, my wife decided to take special care of a mango tree in our backyard in Brazil. She fertilized and watered it daily and for almost a year took better care of the tree than any of the other trees in our small orchard.
After leaving the country for a few years, upon returning back to Brazil, we were shocked by the scene upon arriving home: the mango tree was colossal. A gigantic tree, however, something still remained unresolved: the lack of fruit. In addition to this problem, our next-door neighbour was very angry and complained because its branches were destroying his brick wall that divided the properties. Adding to that, the fruit trees around it all ceased to produce fruit due to the lack of sunlight caused by the shadow of the gigantic tree.
A deadly fungus also appeared on the trunks of the trees, which eventually destroyed them all. Among them was a small lemon tree such as I had never seen before. It produced all year round a lovely and very juicy fruit. The ground under the tree was always covered with lemons. Although it never received fertilizer or watering, it always bore much fruit. It never grew more than five feet, but its branches were curved by the weight of its fruits. Unfortunately, the same parasitic fungus attacked the small lemon tree as well, creating a mould throughout the plant and drying it to the root.
The fruitless mango tree devastated the whole fruit grove!
Finally, we came to the conclusion that the tree should be cut down. The workers who came had a great and difficult task to bring it down. It took about six days to complete the job. All of these troubles happened just because of a fruitless tree that has received too much compost, care and water.
When in the parable above the Lord wanted the fig tree knocked off, and John the Baptist said prophetically that a fruitless tree would be cut down to the root, they were not speculating, they were sincere.
Using my tree as an illustration, there are fruitless people in many "groves" around the world. After years without bearing fruit, they receive “fertilizer” from their leaders such as more attention, more teaching, and more financial support. The groves perhaps could be businesses, work places, or even ministries while other folks in the same places, though fruitful, are forgotten by them. And, as I mentioned about my mango tree, the big risk is that too much fertilizer overshadows such individuals, and, they possibly will be still fruitless, besides activating other aggravating factors such as: causing disorder and conflict with their neighbours and close friends due to the root of pride and self-centeredness, and by their branches attacking someone else's reputation (like happened to my next-door neighbour’s fence). It also can remove the strength, putting in danger those little ones who have always served to bear much fruit, with sincerity and loyalty. The unfruitful ones can cover up the divine light from the faithful ones, because of the branches of these trees causing an infected fungus that might exterminate your whole group.
Jesus cared for and invested for three years in twelve men ‒ it was the twelve “trees” of his grove. All of them were very well fertilized and watered by the Lord’s teaching and love. However, one of them besides being fruitless, was like a parasitic plant as well. He was a thief (he was stealing money from the ministry.)1, and the man who ended up betraying the Lord Jesus as well. You probably have heard about him ‒ the proud, greedy and evil Judas, a large useless tree!
To Jesus be the glory!
1“But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray Him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. John 12: 4