Our Response to Tragedy
If suffering is the result of sin, then the greater the sin, the greater the suffering. It should not be too difficult to pick out who the worst sinners are. There are people who tend to categorize people by the degree of sin that is evident in their lives. And, while they get caught up in who has the worst sin, they find it more difficult to spot sin in themselves than in other people.
Sometimes a person rationalizes his or her sin, thinking, What I did is not nearly as bad as what my neighbor did. His sin was worse than mine, so until he is punished and gets straightened out, there is no pressure on me. Sin is a violation of the law of God, and repentance is the necessary step in restoring one’s relationship with Him.
True repentance results in changed behavior. When a person experiences a heart change, it will show up in changed attitudes and actions
God looks for fruit as natural outcomes in the lives of those to whom He has given life. The fruit of the Spirit is the result of the new life we received when we were regenerated and the work of the Holy Spirit who indwells us. Paul identifies this fruit as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23). The fruit of the Spirit may not yet be mature in us, but it should be evident and growing.
The lesson of the parable was that Israel was “a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor” (Isa. 61:3) and His “vineyard on a fertile hillside” (Isa. 5:1), but unless Israel repented and turned back to God, they would be cut down. Israel’s history is full of mercy and opportunity, and so is our personal history.
6 Then Jesus told this story: “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. 7 Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’
8 “The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. 9 If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’ ”