Summary: This sermon focuses on how God can use the stinky stuff in our lives to help us grow
Title: Spiritual Manure – It Helps a Body Grow
Grace and peace from God our Father, Son and Holy Spring.
You can tell that it is getting closer to Spring Time – you can smell it in the air. You can smell the newness of life. You can see the beautiful flowers, you can see that some of trees are starting to bloom and of course it won’t be long before you can smell the mulch/fertilizer that people will use in their gardens, yards and in their flowerbeds.
Our daughter who lives in Louisiana recently shared that they had already put out 10 bags of mulch in their flowerbeds and have about five more to put down. Pretty soon when you walk by a store or a restaurant you will smell that black or brown mulch that they put down around their buildings. At times the smell of some mulch can be overwhelming. It is unmistakable. It smells bad. It is a smell that can stop you in your tracks.
But if you have worked with mulch; then you know what an amazing product it can be. It may stink for a while, but it is incredible stuff. One of the main reasons mulch stinks so much is that one of its main ingredients is manure. Right alongside all that bark and other things is some good old fashion manure. That is right – M A N U R E.
We don’t talk about manure much these days. Manure is a word that is no longer trendy. We are much too sophisticated to use such down to earth language. Today, we would much rather label it as organic fertilizer, compost material or humus. Whatever we call it the fact remains that it stinks.
In Jesus’ day they just called it manure or dung. It was earthy and it smelled bad. What we call fertilizer or organic fertilizer they called manure. Most of their manure came from the waste material provided by their sheep, cows, chicken and horses.
Perhaps this morning you can even begin to smell the aroma. Manure is one of those products that you can truthfully advertise as something that is natural and that comes with very little “artificial additives or flavors”.
And while it may stink it provides the power (the nutrients) for things to get to the next level. It provides the means for things to experience abundant life. Without some extra nutrients from that manure, or other fertilizers our grass would be less healthy, our flowers would have smaller or no blooms at all, our trees would bear little, or no fruit and our gardens would grow but provide no harvest.
The tree written about in our passage was one that was growing. From a distance it looked good and healthy. But when you reached out your hand to pick a fig off you were greatly disappointed. For while the tree had a trunk, all kinds of limbs and leaves it had no figs. It was a great ornamental tree to look at and probably provided some shade but as far as providing figs it was a bust.
Today, we have Bradford pears trees that are little like what this tree was in Jesus’ time. Bradford pears do not bear pears, they are grown for ornamental use. They look pretty and they grow fast. But if you want a nice juicy pear you don’t grow a Bradford Pear Tree. The most you normally get is this small thing that looks like it wants to grow into a pear but doesn’t. As far as a bearing pear tree you would never choose to plant a Bradford Pear tree.
However, the fig tree in our story is one that should be bearing fruit. The owner took the time to plant it, care for it and he expected to be able to come up to it at the right time of the year and harvest figs from it. He wasn’t into ornamental fig trees. He wanted a fig tree that would do its job. He wanted a fig tree that would do what fig trees are supposed to do.
We get the idea in verse seven that the owner was ready to throw in the towel with this tree. If it wouldn’t grow figs, then it would become fire wood. At least that way it would be useful. For the tree it was either bear fruit or perish time.
Verse eight tells us that the vinedresser intervened. He didn’t want the fig tree to be cut down. He too had invested his life into this tree and he still believed in it. He asks the owner to give him another year. A year in which he would dig around the tree, loosen up the soil and put manure around it. He wanted to put some stinky stuff around it. He knew if he did that there was a good chance that the tree might start producing fruit it had some stinky stuff around it.