The withered fig tree.
The incident of the withered fig tree ( Matthew 21.18 ) has two lessons. The first lesson which the Lord applied to the experience of the disciples – the need for faith in prayer. Do we really attribute to God the ability and willingness to grant us our prayer? (verse 22).
The second lesson, I take to heart as well. The fig tree failed to provide fruit for the Master in His moment of hunger. Leaves make a good show, in particular fig leaves, but the Lord looked for fruit. So I ask myself – is my life outwardly of a Christian appearance but inwardly fruitless? I fear this is all too common!
Fruit that satisfies the Master is more than looking good, more than talking good, more than doing good. The fruit produced by the Holy Spirit is for God first then others. God has loved us, and by the Holy Spirit wants us to love Him. Paul's prayer For the Ephesians was, that ‘Christ might dwell in their hearts by faith’ and so comprehend the uncomprendable love of God! (Ephesians 3). It takes time in secret with the Father, letting the Spirit instruct us and change us. (Matthew 5) God is seeking the fruit of our communion with Him as children, so that we may go out to the world in the character of sons of God. Then others may know who we are by the fruit of the Spirit in action (Galatians 5).
An Australian illustration of this is seen in some gum trees where I live. They may be 20 metres tall but sometimes they are quite dead inside. The sap in the outer bark keeps them alive, but inside is rigid, dead wood. These ones do not survive the bushfires!
May God deliver us from a superficial, fruitless life. Open the door of your mind and heart, and let the Lord of glory come in today. He can cleanse your heart, and give the sweetness of spiritual communion which is more precious than anything on earth.
“The Father seeks such to worship Him” (John 4 )