The Gardener surveyed his little orchard, and decided that there was space for a lemon tree, then a nice specimen was found at the supplier and taken home. The area was prepared and fertilizer dug in, the tree was planted and staked and a thick layer of mulch was layered over it. Then a frost protection canopy was erected to protect the tree. The gardener knew that it was very late in the season to plant trees, and the hot dry weather was upon the area, but the gardener was going to be very thorough and careful, and to tenderly watch over the tree; very carefully.
The tree was well watered each evening, and as the days ticked past, and then it happened, a couple of leaves fell from the little tree. Next day a few more, and more the next day and on it went until the little tree was starting to get to be sparsely covered in leaves, but still the gardener tenderly watched over the little tree, finally the leaves stopped falling off, but nothing happened, days turned into weeks with no changes, just every day the same, nothing noticeable, nothing.
Then the gardener notices a tiny patch of fuzz on the end of a couple of the wee branches, hope rose up, then some flowers appeared to the delight of the bees, then tiny green nuts of future fruit crop appeared, the fuzz proved to be minute leaves, and growth was starting to flourish, slowly, life and growth were overcoming death and decay. The Bible is full of Agricultural, Horticultural and Relationship concepts, to give us something very tangible to help us understand a spiritual concept.
God gives to everybody, both good and bad people, the “Sunshine” of his love, there is not any approval criteria, and if we are growing, then we blossom, and sinners just wither away under this same blessing. God then waters everybody, both good and bad people, with his Holy Spirit, which is abundantly given to everybody, for their growth, development and betterment, to water everybody and to nourish everybody into growth. From this growth, we can blossom with abundant flowers, and then the fruit sets, and we are cropping Christians, Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” We now show external evidence that we are either “dead in our trespasses and sin” or we are “in the Spirit and blossoming, vibrant and alive in Christ.”
To keep us nourished and well fed, God gives everybody his word, the Bible, and this is the amazing “growth fertilizer” that enables us to do this, 2 Peter 3:18 “But grow in grace, and [in] the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him [be] glory both now and for ever. Amen.” We need to fertilize our souls daily with a good helping of Bible Reading and scripture study, and then we need fellowship with fellow believers led by a good shepherd who feed God’s sheep with nourishment, encouragement and instruction, all directly from scripture.
Just like the Lemon Tree, we have a choice, moment by moment to accept or to reject the blessings so bountifully showered upon us. The Lemon Tree chose to “live for itself” and to isolate itself from its surroundings, to go it alone, I can do this all by myself, and then the tree discovered that within itself, there was no life, growth and development. The tree had to reach out and absorb the nourishment and nutrients from its surroundings, at that point, growth started, slowly at first, and then abundantly and abounding goodness and health. It then became obviously evident to all who viewed the Lemon Tree that it was alive and flourishing, and as long as it continued to absorb the life giving gifts around it, then it will fruit abundantly.
John 15:7-8 “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you, Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” Jesus’ Parable also gives us another concept, “Pruning,” John 15:2 “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every [branch] that beareth fruit, he pruneth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” The Gardener is going to, over the coming months and years, prune the Lemon Tree, to give it shape, to encourage growth, to remove branches that are failing and dying, this will initially hurt the tree, but it will promote life and health and a bountiful harvest.
If you are a Lemon Tree, do your best to fruit the biggest and juiciest fruit, God will make lovely Lemonade from you, lemon cakes, lemon muffins and so many other delicious bounties, you must do your part to 2 Peter 3:18 “But grow in grace, and [in] the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him [be] glory both now and for ever. Amen.” So grow in Grace and knowledge, immerse yourself in the blessings God is abundantly showering on you, and everybody around you, look to Jesus and do not judge those about you, witness by your bountiful growth in Jesus Christ, that anybody can grow, encourage them to grow better than you.
Let us adapt this scripture, 1 Corinthians 2:13-27 “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one Orchard, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the Orchard is not one Tree, but many. If the Lemon shall say, because I am not a Peach, I am not of the Orchard? And if the Apple shall say, because I am not an Apricot, I am not of the Orchard; is it therefore not of the Orchard? If the whole Orchard [were] a Lemon, where [were] the Oranges? If the whole [were] Plums, where [were] the Avacado’s? But now hath
God set the trees every one of them in the orchard, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one variety, where [were] the Orchard? But now [are they] variety, yet but one Orchard… For our Individuality, have no need: but God hath tempered the Orchard together, having given more abundant honour to that [part] which lacked: That there should be no schism in the Orchard; but [that] the Trees should have the same care one for another. And whether one Tree suffer, all the Trees suffer with it; or one Tree be honoured, all the Orchard rejoice with it. Now ye are the Orchard of Christ, and members in particular.”