It’s easy to have lots of activity, but no real progress, to have lots of talk but no action. To have promises but no follow through. To appear to be one thing when really you are another.
Jesus talks about this in Mark 11:12 when he does the strange thing of cursing a fig tree. Fig trees grow their fruit at the same time as the leaves. The leaves provide some protection to the fruit from the sun and rain. The tree Jesus cursed had grown its leaves and that’s what attracted Jesus to it. With a fig tree full of leaves you would expect fruit, as this was the natural order of a fruitful tree.
Yet when Jesus and his friends came to eat that fig tree was barren, and ineffective and Jesus was not impressed.
The next place we find Jesus is walking into the temple where the temple leaders had put a system in place where they would exhort those coming to worship God. There were moneychangers everywhere insisting that worshippers only used the temple currency to pay for their sacrifices and gifts to God.
There was a lot of activity, noise and appearance of doing good, but in actual fact the place was rife with extortion and profiteering from those wanting to worship. There were lots of “leaves” of presumed spirituality, but no fruitful worship and prayer.
Jesus revealed by cursing that fig tree that we each have a responsibility with what we have been given. It is not enough to just look like we are doing the “right thing,” like we are living a good and godly life, but actually being unfruitful. He kicked everyone out of the temple and reminded them that “my Fathers house is a house of prayer”. He rebukes the temple leaders pulling apart their system, telling them to get back to the foundations of their faith, and to produce some real fruit.
“Then Jesus went into the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those selling doves. And He declared to them, “It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it a den of robbers. The blind and the lame came to Him at the temple, and He healed them” (Matthew 21:13)
We can be just as religious as the Pharisees and temple leaders, looking the part to others, being all leafy, and yet having no real fruit.
Isn’t it time we forgot about looking good, and saying all the right things and instead focused on being fruitful.
That means walking in love, even with those who don’t deserve love
It is having joy when there is little to be joyful about.
It is peace in the middle of turmoil.
It is patience when you want it now.
It is kindness to those you don’t even know.
It is goodness to those who don’t deserve your goodness.
It is faithfulness and consistency in your life, whether you are at church on a Sunday, or at home or work or school on a Monday.
It is gentleness when all you want to do is lash out and yell or criticise and have a go.
It is self-control choosing God’s way rather than letting your flesh have It’s way.
These are the fruits of the Spirit. This is fruit that Jesus says will last, and it’s the fruit He is looking for in our lives. (Galatians 5:22)
It is not enough to “look” like you are being fruitful in your walk with Jesus. We actually are called, and commanded to BE fruitful. To be the real deal! Not fake, or lazy, not “leafy Christians” who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. Jesus said the key to being fruitful is to get back to the basics of prayer, of relationship with Him, of abiding in Him and Him in us, of worship, of knowing what God’s Word says, and then going out and doing it.
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:14)
“So that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:10)
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” (John 15:16)
Today examine your life and ask yourself “how fruitful am I being? Because if Jesus takes being fruitful seriously, shouldn’t we?
Prayer: Lord forgive me where I have been more interested in looking good and saying the right things, yet I haven’t been producing any fruit. Help me to be honest, and to get back to basics. To be the real deal! In Jesus name Amen.