[#pictureLent] February 28: PRODUCE

By Rev. Sarah Campbell
First United Methodist Church, Pastor
Inverness, Florida

First, read Luke 13:6-9

I grew up next door to my grandmother, a master gardener. During all seasons of the year, her yard was beautifully arrayed with many varieties of flowers, plants, trees, and shrubs. When I was eleven years old, she decided she was going to teach me to grow gardenias, my favorite smelling flower.

Grandma spent time teaching me about fertilizer and the just right amount of sunlight and water gardenias needed to produce the sweet smelling flowers I loved so much. I was excited. I was going to grow wonderfully smelling flowers! After a while though, I stopped giving my gardenias the attention they needed. My gardenias began to shrivel and turn brown and, when Spring came, my long desired flowers never bloomed.

One day, I was complaining to Grandma that my flowers never bloomed. She said, with a wise look of love, “But, Sarah, you didn’t follow my instructions. You didn’t give those gardenias what they needed to produce the flowers you wanted. Now, just what did you expect?”

In today’s Scripture, Jesus tells a parable about a man who wants to cut down his fig tree because it is not producing the desired fruit. It’s evident that the man did not properly care for his fig tree.  So, another man volunteers to work with the fig tree for a year, giving it proper attention, in order to see if the tree will produce the wanted figs.

This parable makes a direct correlation with our lives. If we want to grow closer in our relationship with God, if want to see more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in our lives, if we want to stop engaging in behaviors that push us away from God and others, we must be willing to humble ourselves and give the necessary attention and work needed. We can’t rush the process. Most real change will not happen overnight- it could even take years. Yet, by being disciplined and by having a true focus on God’s grace through faith and trust in Jesus Christ, our lives can and will be transformed. We will not be left to shrivel up and become irrelevant. We have hope.

 Only with intentional hard work, centered in God’s unconditional love, will our lives produce the results we want, desire, and expect.

Prayer: God, help us become humbled and disciplined, giving our lives over to Your love, so we can produce all the good things You desire for our lives. Amen.

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

1)  What specific results or good things do we want for our lives?
2) In what specific ways can we work toward producing these results or good things in our lives?
3) How can a dependence on God’s grace help us transform our lives?