Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Thursday, October 24, 2015

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Chop it down, Friend.

I have a willow tree in my back yard that is growing and flourishing. That may not mean much to you, but it is wonderful to me. For years I couldn’t get a tree to grow because of the enormous tree next door. The roots of the thing extended to my yard, sucking up every drop of water and every random nutrient. Last year, the marauder was finally chopped down and its roots expunged. Now my tree can grow.

Most of us have many things in our lives that suck up resources. It is an ongoing process to evaluate and remove those things that are not producing good fruit, thus freeing up nutrients for the things that matter. We all have some life-suckers. They can be activities, or they may be people. Often, our problem is how to determine when it’s time to chop them down and get on with life. I don’t want to give up on them too soon. Maybe harvest will come tomorrow! Jesus told a parable in Luke 13:6-9 about a fig tree that was without fruit. The vineyard owner said “Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?” The caretaker said, “let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it.” If you have something or somebody in your life that is using up your resources with no visible fruit, maybe it’s time to pitch a little fertilizer on it and then cut it down. Here are a few pointers for making a decision:

· Don’t kid yourself: Every tree (project, activity, relationship) uses resources, whether it bears fruit or not.

· Your resources are finite. (Time / Money / Mental and emotional energy / Physical strength / Skills and abilities / Personnel)

· Count the actual cost: What resources am I currently pouring into this person/activity?

· Do I have the capacity to dung it? Is there one or more of my resources that I reasonably believe will help bring fruit if I increase how much of it I pour in?

· What would constitute success? What would fruitfulness look like? How will I recognize it and/or measure it?

· How long is long enough? How long do I want / need / feel obligated to give it to bear fruit?

· Have a plan. What is my reasonable / do-able plan for maintaining/increasing the resources needed for this span of time? (If it ain’t do-able, don’t try to do it)

· Schedule a final day of reckoning. Put it on the calendar and tell somebody else the plan. No cheating! Cut that sucker down!!!!

Scripture Reading: Then Jesus used this illustration: "A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard. He went to look for fruit on the tree but didn’t find any. He said to the gardener, ‘For the last three years I’ve come to look for figs on this fig tree but haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up good soil?’ "The gardener replied, ‘Sir, let it stand for one more year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. Maybe next year it’ll have figs. But if not, then cut it down.’" (Luke 13:6-9 GW)

Somebody Said: Our life is the sum total of all the decisions we make every day, and those decisions are determined by our priorities. Myles Munroe

So much to do, so little time. My only concern about eternity is that I will leave earth with regrets, not for things I did, but for things I didn’t do. Lord, give me grace to identify the resource-suckers and chop them down.

Pastor Virgil Stokes


Looking for good, practical bible training to help prepare you to be effective in your Christian life? Check out Faith Ministry Training Institute. Disponible tambien en Español.

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