Proverbs 27:18

Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured.


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Success is easy, even for lowly and simple men. All you must do is take good care of a successful boss or owner, and he will take good care of you. The man who keeps the fig tree gets to eat the valuable fruit, so the faithful servant will be rewarded by his master. This proverb is to encourage wise men to diligence and faithfulness in their professions.

You can trust this general rule of employment success. God only makes exceptions for more important reasons. If you want to get ahead, make your master so happy he cannot resist cutting you in on the real action. It has happened many times before; it will happen again. A wise servant can be promoted above even a son that is lazy or foolish (Pr 17:2).

Faithful men are rare today (II Tim 3:1-5; Pr 20:6; Ps 12:1), which makes this proverb even truer now. The contrast between your diligence and others’ laziness will be wider than ever – the same is true of your cheerfulness and their sullenness, your punctuality and their tardiness, your carefulness and their carelessness, and your obedience and their obstinance. Believe it! Find your fig tree, and keep it better than others. Success is easy.

A young boy, with average abilities, starts at a fast food restaurant. He is from a different race and section of town than the owner. The boy fears God and reads a proverb every morning. He is early to work, spit polished, cheerful, raring to go, and goes full speed all day, without complaint or letup. He knows only full speed and faster, nothing slower. Pacing himself makes the day drag and steals the owner’s profits, he explains modestly.

He follows all rules exactly, brings his own lunch, never misses work, asks for more tasks during lulls, cleans beyond his assigned area, does the work of two during rush periods, helps a customer change a flat tire, puts his arm shoulder-deep in the grease trap to recover a kitchen timer, does not snitch even a French fry, never questions his boss, does not offer foolish suggestions, and is friendly and respectful at all times to all persons.

Before leaving, he thanks the owner for his job and offers to do anything else that may be needed. When told an employee for the next shift just called in sick in order to go fishing, he enthusiastically volunteers to work a double shift, though he has to miss his own basketball game that night. He cheerfully works the second shift at full speed, closes the store securely, deposits the day’s sales at the bank, and mails letters for the owner.

When he began, he made minimum wage. After one year, he was promoted to supervisor. After two years, he was Assistant Manager. After three years, he was the youngest Store Manager in the chain’s history. After four years, the owner gave him 25% of store profits on top of his wages and retired in another city. After six years, the owner died and willed him the rest of the store. Today he has 5 stores and is thinking about where he will retire.

Too good to be true? Joseph began at minimum wage – slavery! In thirteen years he sat on a throne of the richest nation on earth. He found three fig trees, and he was the best keeper all three had ever imagined – Potiphar, the jailor, and Pharaoh. Let God be true!

Too good to be true? Jacob ran away from home with only a staff. Twenty years later, he had four wives, twelve sons, and very much wealth. He had found a fig tree, a gnarled old tree with potential, and he kept it faithfully in spite of setbacks – Laban. Let God be true!

Too good to be true? Elisha was only a plowboy when he found his fig tree to take care of, the service of God and Elijah. But so faithfully did he serve both masters that he was given a double portion of Elijah’s spirit (I Kgs 19:19-21; II Kgs 2:1-15). Incredible! Let God be true! Let every man of God fulfill his royal call as a servant of the King of kings.

Too good to be true? Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812) was born in the Frankfurt ghetto and faithfully served Prince Wilhelm IX of Hesse, who later loaned him the capital to build his family fortune. He sent his five sons to the greatest cities of Europe, resulting in the most powerful banking and financial dynasty in modern history. The Rothschild coat of arms has a clenched fist with five arrows symbolizing five banking dynasties from Psalm 127:4. In spite of no faith in Christ, their father created their wealth by waiting on the fig tree of Hesse and being honored according to this proverb. Let God be true!

Reader, how do you keep your fig tree? Faithful diligence brings honor. Waiting on your master brings promotion. Do not complain; get to work. You need sanctification more than you need education. You do not need brilliance; you need diligence. You do not need a sponsor; you need a motor. You do not need an opportunity; you need humility. Your greatest ability should be dependability. Graciousness will always trump genius.

First you must find a fig tree. A fence post is not a fig tree. It may be wood, but it bears no fruit. A dead or dying business is not where you want to be, no matter how much you like it or believe in it. If it is not making money, guess what? It is not making money! Cut your losses! You may keep that fence post in bed with you, but it will not bear fruit. Get away from that business or industry and find one that is necessary and thriving.

An electrical pole is not a fig tree, though it is wood and very tall. The “business opportunity” of a promoter with a shiny watch is just a tall tale. Ignore his leased Rolex and boasts about riches. Such men do not have real fig trees, or they would be eating from them instead of flattering you into a business selling overpriced junk that would never sell in the real marketplace. If he does not have a business without you, do not give him your business. Get away from him! Network marketing is not a fig tree – it is a pyramid scheme where 98% are continually fleeced to pay the 2% that take the “profits.”

A silk Ficus tree is not a fig tree, though it looks like one to the greedy and hasty eye. It will not produce figs, no matter how much you water it. Do not listen to enticing stories too good to be true. If they sound too good to be true, that means they are a lie. Simple enough? Reject all promoters that like to talk a lot. If their ideas really worked, the last person they would be talking to is you (Pr 12:11; 14:23; 28:19). Find a producing fig tree.

You need a real fig tree that bears real fruit you can see and touch – a successful business in a necessary industry with potential. Solomon suggested farming (Pr 12:11; 27:23-27; 28:19). Food works (Eccl 5:9). Wholesaling works (Pr 31:24). Commercial real estate works (Pr 31:16). Banking works (Matt 9:9). Printing works (Eccl 12:12). Construction works (I Kgs 11:26-28). Just about anything works, if men already need it and/or want it.

Second, keep the tree carefully. The Bible tells you how. Do not snitch a dime (Tit 2:10), answer back to your boss (Tit 2:9), shame your boss (Pr 17:2), or goof off even once (Eccl 10:1). Work harder than anyone else (Pr 22:29), speak when spoken to (Pr 29:19), please your boss well in all things (Tit 2:9), reverence authority (Eccl 10:7), work smart (Pr 14:35), and show friendliness (Pr 18:24). Success is easy! Pick the fruit, and eat it.

Does it sound too demeaning for you to serve another man or woman with the faithfulness and passion of a devoted slave? Then you are too proud for success, so get used to watching infomercials on television without any money to buy (Pr 21:25-26). If you are a man, can you serve a boss or business owner so diligently that you are called his work wife? Too silly for you? Good! Other readers with wisdom will take your place.

Does it sound unlikely such a simplistic, old-fashioned approach could work today? Have social activists, that have never worked a day in their lives, lied to you that discrimination will keep the master from honoring you or the fig tree from bearing fruit? Remember Joseph in Egypt! Daniel in Babylon! Esther in Persia! Discrimination is usually a lying excuse of a slothful person that wants a free handout (Pr 17:2; 22:13; 26:13; 20:4). God made economic rules about even servants that support the fig tree proverb (Ex 21:20-21).

Third, do everything on and off the job to the Lord Jesus Christ, with a focused fervent heart committed to His glory (Eph 6:5-7; Col 3:22-23). If you put His kingdom first in your life, He will add everything else you need or desire (Matt 6:33; I Kgs 3:10-13). If you delight in Him, He will give you the desires of your heart (Ps 37:4). If you walk uprightly, He will not withhold any good things from you (Ps 84:11). God will favor the righteous every time, so commit your heart, mind, and life to Him (Ps 112:1-3).

Reader, do not say you have done all this and are still on the bottom rung, for the rule is as true as any verse in the Bible. It is true as gravity. You have been cheating somewhere, for the rule works. Do you have a tree? Are you keeping it well? Is the Lord first? Is there room for you to improve in one or more of these conditions? Then repent and get busy!

What if you get the wrong tree? Impossible, if you make a reasonable effort to avoid fence posts, telephone polls, and Ficus trees. Your Master in heaven will see your care of even the wrong tree and reward you accordingly (Eph 6:8; Col 3:25). Believe it! The tree has less to do with the overall equation of success than does your diligent labor and love for your Master in heaven. He will solve your tree problem, when you clean up your performance problem. Have you forgotten about Moses? David? Abigail? Mordecai?

What of your religious fig tree? Saul of Tarsus ignorantly picked a horrible tree – it bore poisonous plums – but he kept it faithfully. He did not know any better, but he was perfectly faithful with what he knew. So his Master Jesus promoted him to apostle of the Gentiles for that faithfulness (I Tim 1:12-14). Give God the glory! How are you keeping your tree? With your whole heart? Or with a double mind? Can God count you faithful?

Regenerated reader, there is a glorious fig tree that only you know about. It is the Lord Jesus Christ and His kingdom. Jesus said, “If any man serve me, him will my Father honour” (John 12:26). How much honor? Jesus said again, “Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them” (Luke 12:37). Can it be true? Verily, there is a reward for the righteous (Ps 58:11).

Do you hear the Blessed and Only Master saying, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matt 25:21,23). This is the truly important fig tree – Jesus Christ. How do you serve Him? A crown awaits the faithful (II Tim 4:7-8).

How glorious is the honor? “The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads” (Rev 22:3-4). Glory! Lord, lead me to Thy tree, and I shall keep it faithfully.