“He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’” vss.8-9
When we study scripture we tend to fall into the either-or trap–either this is true or that is true. For example, either we’re saved by grace or we’re saved by works, and we choose whichever “truth” suits our fancy at the time. Many people are comfortable with such dualistic thinking–it’s certainly what we’ve gotten used to in religious conversation. The problem is that this style of interpretation results in a pretty narrow view of scripture and we end up twisting passages to fit our particular bias. It’s a real blessing when we can put aside those dualisms and simply accept whatever is being said in any particular text. In this text Jesus is obviously saying that people are expected to bear fruit. When they don’t there is a grace period, a time for absorbing nutrients. If they still don’t bear fruit, that’s it! Those who have hung their hats on unconditional love have a tough time accepting the harshness of Jesus’ words. Their tendency is to engage in interpretive gymnastics to permanently extend the grace period. But that’s not necessary if we accept the truth of both grace and works. Are works essential? Of course! Is salvation by grace? Of course! We need both these truths to lead a fruitful, peaceful life!
Thought for the Day: Why are fruits essential?