A Tree With No Fruit!

Luke 13

6Then Jesus used this illustration: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. 7Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s taking up space we can use for something else.’

8“The gardener answered, ‘Give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. 9If we get figs next year, fine. If not, you can cut it down.’” (Luke 13:6-9, NLT)

The Daily DAVEotional

In the first house we owned we had a tangerine tree. It was awesome. There’s nothing like fresh squeezed tangerine juice.

When we moved to our current location, I dreamed of having a tangerine tree so we could have fresh squeezed juice just about whenever we wanted.

It took a couple of years to clear some of the bushes and get the back yard exactly the way we wanted but we finally bought a dwarf tangerine tree and planted it in the corner.

The first year there was no fruit, but I figured, it was still growing. The next year, it looked like it was ready to start producing as I could see a couple of tiny tangerines beginning to grow.

And then we got a puppy.

If you know anything about puppies, they like to chew things and one of the things our dog chewed on was that tangerine tree. (For more on doggie destructiveness, read my post: Life Lessons From Our Dog).  I put some mesh wiring around the base of the tree to keep the dog from destroying the tree but I wasn’t sure if it was too little too late.

Lo and behold, the tree was saved and it began to grow back (see photo on top left). But it’s been almost five years since then and we still haven’t seen one piece of fruit.

This passage from Luke reminds me of my tangerine tree. I’m about ready to toss it out and get another tree, perhaps one that is more fully developed – one that I know will yield me the fruit that I’m so often craving.

Henry Cloud appeals to this passage to illustrate what he refers to as “The Growth Model.”

When you’re thinking about growth and development, Dr. Cloud says there are three ingredients that are necessary: grace, truth and time.

In this example, the tree is not producing fruit. That is the reality. The owner wants to chop it down and put something else in its place, something that will produce fruit.

The gardener urges the owner to give the tree “one more chance”. The gardener wants to intentionally apply these 3 necessary ingredients for growth to see if the tree will respond and begin to produce fruit.

The time is the extra year. What is the truth in this scenario? The truth is the special attention gardener promises to give the tree.

But what is the grace?

We often think of grace as unmerited favor – the free gift of salvation that is given to us by Jesus through His sacrificial death on the cross.

In this illustration, the grace is the fertilizer. It’s the ingredient the tree cannot provide for itself that comes from an outside source.

Like that tree, we also need grace, truth and time in order to grow and develop. Truth is reality. It’s the realization that we have an issue or problem we need to work through.

Grace is the ingredient that you cannot provide for yourself. It may come in the form of support or motivation or help from someone else.

If we have appropriate levels of grace and truth in our lives applied over time, we can experience growth. We will be like the tangerine tree, producing sweet fruit that is evident and enjoyed by many!

NOTE: For a real life example of how grace and truth helps promote growth and change, read my post from December 15 on “Discipleship and Change Through Coaching.”


Which of the three elements do you need in your life to experience growth in an area where you may have struggled to see improvement?

What are some areas of your life where you’ve struggled to experience real change?

How can you apply the principles from this passage to help you see progress?


Photos by Dave Lowe



A Contradictory Psalm

The Daily Daveotional

Psalm 13

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

1O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?

2How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

3Turn and answer me, O LORD my God! Restore the light to my eyes, or I will die.

4Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

5But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.

6I will sing to the LORD because he has been so good to me.

(Psalm 13, NLT)

In this Psalm, David cries out to the Lord as his soul is in deep anguish. He feels defeated by his enemies and he feels abandoned by God.

But by the end of the Psalm, David says that he trusts in God’s unfailing love, rejoices that God has rescued him and sings to the Lord because God has been so good to him.

On the surface, this Psalm seems like a contradiction in perspective. One moment, David is complaining that the Lord has abandoned him and in the next moment, he’s praising God for rescuing him and being so good to him.

Which is it?  It’s as if David is shifting back and forth between alternate universes in real time. Is he hallucinating? Is he disconnected from reality? Or is there some other explanation?

The truth is that David IS in anguish. He DOES feel abandoned. He DOES feel like his enemies are overtaking him.

These are real emotions David is experiencing and they are are all true.

But what is also true is God’s sovereignty, love and goodness. David recognizes these things too and is able to acknowledge their reality.

This is what Henry Cloud, in his book “Changes That Heal”, calls sorting the good and bad. People who do this well recognize that there is both good and bad in our world. They are able to deal with the reality that both exist in a way that doesn’t allow negative outcomes to become the consuming focus of their reality.

People who don’t do this well tend to go all bad if one little thing goes wrong.

What do I mean by going “all bad”?

Going all bad occurs when we allow a negative experience or circumstance to so consume us that we begin to project our negative emotion on all aspects of our reality. Our attitude and judgment is clouded in such a way that we can only see and focus on things that are negative while being purposely blind to any good elements in our reality.

David doesn’t do this. He recognizes the bad circumstances he’s in and he’s honest about his emotions. But David also acknowledges the good that still exists, namely, the reality that God is good and loving.


What keeps you from being completely honest with God about your emotions? 

When have you gone all bad as a result of an undesired circumstance? What was the situation you were in and how did your emotions affect your perception of reality?

What do you think are some practical ways you can develop in your ability to sort the good and bad?

What are 10 things you can think of right now that are positive about your current life situation?


Photo of “Changes That Heal” from Amazon website – by Dave Lowe