In Jesus’ parable of the fig tree in Luke 13:6-7, the owner of a vineyard had an employee who took care of the vineyard. The owner had been checking a particular fig tree for three years, and it never did bear any fruit, so he told his employee to cut it down. It was just using up the soil and water, and there were plenty of other fig trees that could use that same soil and bear fruit.
However, the employee had cared for that tree for three years, and he didn’t want his efforts to be wasted. He asked the owner to leave it for one more year, and he would spend extra time cultivating and fertilizing it. Then, if it still didn’t bear fruit, he would cut it down.
I’ve seen similar occurrences in my vegetable garden. I plant tomato plants each spring, and I spend a lot of time caring for them. I choose a sunny location, and then I did a deep hole for each tomato plant where I bury fertilizer. When the plant’s roots reach the fertilizer, the plant will receive extra nourishment. Then I plant the tomato plant above the fertilizer, and I mulch it to help it retain water. I then place a metal cage around the plant for support of its branches as it grows.
Then I continually check each plant every couple of days. When they’re dry, I water them, and when spider mites attack, I spray them. After a few weeks, if conditions are right, I’m able to harvest plenty of tomatoes.
However, sometimes, for unknown reasons a particular plant fails to yield a crop. At a certain point in the growing season, I make a decision. Should I continue to spend my efforts on a plant that isn’t bearing fruit, or should I pull it up. As soon as I’m convinced that, despite my best efforts, it will bear no fruit, I decide to stop wasting water, fertilizer, and spray on it, and I pull it up.
I have a purpose for that tomato plant, just as God has a purpose for each of us. We’re not here to just live out our lives fruitlessly. God has a specific plan for each one of us. He tells us that we need to repent and get engaged into His plan, or perish. We need to change to His way of doing things and start bearing fruit, or perish.