18 Anyone who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit,
and anyone who takes care of a master will be honoured.
The next reference to trees in Proverbs likens caring for a fig tree with caring for a “master”. Loyal care results in fruit from the tree and that is likened to honor that comes from a master. It is interesting that the word “master” is used and not a relationship that draws positive emotions. Perhaps that is why Solomon likens care for a master to care for a tree. Trees don’t emote and express thanks for the gardener’s work of watering, weeding, and pruning. We don’t think of trees as being appreciative. The word “master” also connotes contractual relationship as opposed to a warm fuzzy relationship like spouse or friend. Master-servant relationship implies work, hierarchy and perhaps lack of appreciation.
So when we look at relationships that are not governed by a code of love and appreciation but are more work or business oriented, we might well reflect on how we care for those relationships. These are the people outside our friendship group. It might include people who have the power to harm us like a boss or who have offended us like an enemy. Dare we mention people of the opposite political party or a different denomination or ethnicity? It could be the neighbor who parties too loud and too long on the weekend. This proverb calls us to care for these relationships with the same concern we would give to our fig tree that produces fruit to feed our family. The wise person is a loyal relationship with all encountered even as he loyally tends the fig tree that feeds him. Lord, help me to be loyal in all my ways and treat others the way you treat me.