A fruit tree located in the backyard is fun and healthy, but there’s a wait time between planting the tree and getting to enjoy fruit. An apple tree takes 3-4 years to bloom and produce any apples; cherry trees can take up to 7 years; fig trees only need 1-2 years to bear fruit. Olive trees can bear fruit after 5-7 years, but need up to 85 years to bring a stable yield! Isn’t this a lot like life? Some work we do produces results quickly, but other work seems to take forever to bear fruit.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10) Just as it’s difficult to labor with a fruit tree that won’t produce for possibly 7 years, it’s difficult to bring good into dark situations where we can’t see much hope. We may feel our circumstances are unique and beyond all hope, but consider what Solomon says. “In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike with be good.” (Ecclesiastes 9:6) Do we really know for certain what God will do in the future? That’s why we must continue to sow our good seeds.
“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself…” (Romans 15:1-2) The apostle Paul is saying we are in a special position to work with those trees that take a while to bear fruit. After all, isn’t the Lord patient with us? The Lord “is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Therefore, having received patience, we can be patient as we love and encourage our brothers and sisters who struggle with weakness and sin. If we ourselves struggle and tire of doing this, we can run to God; remember Paul says God is, “the God of endurance and encouragement…” (Romans 15:5)
Waiting for God to work on those trees that are slow to bear fruit is hard, but needed work, as Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2) We may get frustrated with fruitless trees, but we don’t stop watering them; the same way, people who bear no good works challenge us, but we must continue to water them with God’s love. Think on what David said, when he remarked, “He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:6)