Our new house has a garden. So for the first time we are now faced with the question of which plants to get. There is one particular spot which we want to fill. We want quite a big bush, with a lot of flowers throughout the year. We want that bush to be a bright spot of colour no matter which season it is.
So as I was walking home today, I was imagining what might happen with this (still theoretical at the moment) plant. Lets suppose that I did some research online, and the found the perfect plant. So we go to the nursery to buy the plant, and there it is all in flower already. This is a good start – it is living up to expectations so far. But then months later one day we look at the plant in our garden and it doesn’t have a single flower. The conversation might go something like this:
“I thought this plant was supposed to flower all year?”
“All my sources said that they are supposed to…”
“Well, despite what your sources claimed, this plant is no good! We will take it out and find a different plant!”
This story of mine sounds a lot like the account of Jesus and the fig tree.
Matthew 21:18-19 (WEBBE): 18Now in the morning, as he returned to the city, he was hungry. 19Seeing a fig tree by the road, he came to it, and found nothing on it but leaves. He said to it, “Let there be no fruit from you forever!”
Immediately the fig tree withered away.
A fruit tree with no fruit is just as disappointing as a flower bush with no flowers.
Mark elaborates on this account a little by saying that it was not the season for figs. So according to human wisdom, there should not have been fruit. But Jesus expected better. In our lives, it is too easy to justify the lack of fruit by pointing to the season. When Jesus said that when we abide in Him we will carry much fruit, there was no mention of anything else influencing the fruit.
John 15:5 (WEBBE): 5I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
It is not “He who remains in Me will bear much fruit during the happy seasons” or “He who remains in Me will bear much fruit while people treat him well in return”. Jesus remains the vine no matter how loud human wisdom might shout that under the circumstances it is almost expected that we stop bearing good fruit.
Luke 6:43-45 (WEBBE): 43For there is no good tree that produces rotten fruit; nor again a rotten tree that produces good fruit. 44For each tree is known by its own fruit. For people don’t gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings out that which is good, and the evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings out that which is evil, for out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaks.
If you stop bearing good fruit, you should ask yourself what has gone wrong. Something has distracted you from Jesus. Something or someone else has become number one in your life. Because if you were walking with Jesus every day, good fruit would be the natural result.
So what does good fruit look like? I am going to quote Galatians 5:22-23 – probably one of the most well known passages in all of the Bible. You might know it off by heart. Please … slow … down … when you read it and actually think about each word – especially if you know it that well!
Galatians 5:22-23 (WEBBE): 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Which of these good fruits are missing from your life? What caused you to lose them?
… How can you get them back?
Even if it seems impossible to overcome the things that stole your fruit, the answer is easy: walk in daily relationship with Jesus. He is always enough!