You Already Know More Than You Need to Know

Recently on Facebook, a friend posted this encapsulation of Biblical advice. It doesn’t have a title, but it includes several short lines that could serve: “It’s not rocket science” or “Just go do it.” I chose the final line because it’s a good reminder that we are all equipped and empowered for kindness and compassion. My friend who made the post is an ordained minister, but this advice is for all of us.

One of the most “Christian” individuals I have ever met described herself as an atheist. I met her on a trip years ago and no longer remember her name, but I remember the way she interacted with other people. Her mode of being was to be kind, to give of herself, to encourage others, to treat everyone with respect and courtesy, to constantly show love to the people she encountered.

You could reply that she was missing the important one “Worship God.” Matthew 22:37 says that Jesus emphasized two commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The John Ortberg quote above pretty well captures those two commandments in language anyone can understand.

It appeared to me that the young woman I met on the trip had figured out how to live the second commandment. That seems like an excellent avenue for finding the way to the first commandment.


Second Chances

Many of the New Testament parables are familiar to everyone, but this morning I came across one in Luke that I’ve never noticed before. It goes like this:

“A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir, the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'”

I can’t tell you what Jesus meant to convey with this parable, but it speaks to me about the promises and the constraints of second chances.

First, there are the “second chances” the tree has already had. The fig tree owner had given the tree three years’ worth of chances to bear fruit. When it failed the first year, he gave it two more years to produce before he was ready to cut it down. But in those two years, nothing was done to aid the tree’s ability to produce. Now,┬áthe vineyard tender will take it upon himself to aerate the soil around the tree and add the nutrients the tree is apparently lacking. This is how one avoids wasting a second chance.

Where in your life are you being offered a second chance? Could be that it’s only one more “do over” in a whole string; could be that it’s your last chance. In either case, it’s your opportunity to figure out a better way.

What do you see in this parable?