If a Tree has Leaves, does it have Fruit?

Matthew 21:18-19
18Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

A fruit tree is expected to produce fruit after its kind. A Christian is expected to produce fruit after their kind.
The fig tree in this story is said to represent Israel. The person coming from the outside might enter a city like Jerusalem and see it flourishing. They could go to the temple and see it full of activity and religious men walking about it and throughout the city. Jesus teaches us here that just because a tree has leaves and looks healthy doesn’t mean that it is fruitful. If it is a fruit tree that appears healthy and yet produces no fruit, it is failing in its purpose in life. Just like Israel, if we appear to be the people of God, have all of the churches and religious services, but do not bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, then we too are barren. We are missing our purpose. Our purpose is to not bear healthy looking leaves, but to produce fruit in the way God has purposed us to do. No amount of leaves or trappings can hide that.
Adam and Eve used leaves to hide their nakedness and we often do the same; hiding the shame of a life that is void of fruitfulness, but full of activity. Jesus says in John 15:1-8, “”I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will 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.
5″I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” We are taught here that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. He doesn’t tell us that our function is to produce leaves, but to produce fruit. Leaves are a support and facilitator for the fruit, but they can never take the place of the fruit; they are like faith and works, they go together.
Jesus gave us many examples where He shows us that we have responsibility and accountability for His life in us. If we take and receive the life of Christ in us, then live our lives only for ourselves we are a fruitless tree or branch. We are to bear fruit so that others might be partakers of the life of Christ and be nourished through what He is imparted to us.
The fruit of the Spirit spoken of in Galatians 5:22-23 are, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This fruit operating in our lives will allow us to be fruitful in the gifts and abilities that God has given each of us for our ministry and calling.
One day the Lord will examine our tree or our branch. We have responsibility for what it is bearing. If we are truly abiding in the vine then we will be producing the fruit and not just the leaves. It is important that we judge ourselves that we be not judged. How fruitful is our tree?

Blessings,
#kent

Affectionately Loving One Another
Romans 12:10
[Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Did you ever notice that the people that you end up neglecting and abusing the most are usually the ones you say that you love the most? They are most often your family, close friends, or even your brothers and sisters in Christ. The ironic thing is that we often give preference to the ones or the things that are putting the more demands and abuses on our lives, but in the scheme of things are less in importance. Somehow we just expect those we love and prefer to understand when we put them last on our agenda or speak or treat them harshly. Perhaps many of you, like myself, find your lives out of balance with your priorities and preferences. In a society in which we find ourselves running like crazy in a thousand different directions, with people and pressures pressing in on us on every side, when something has to give it is usually our family. That can apply to both our immediate families as well as the family of God. Isn’t it strange that we are doing all of these things that in our minds we consider for the benefit of our families and yet they are often suffering as a result of them? What’s wrong that picture?
I speak this first for my own benefit and then for the benefit of anyone else who thinks it may apply to them. I find I get an agenda set in my mind and I’m not real tolerant of interruptions to that agenda. Some of you, like myself, may find that you have created walls of hurt and wounded the ones closest to you. You have communicated to them so many times through your actions and words that they aren’t as important or as valuable as so many other things in your life. My feeling is that this is a major problem with a good many of our families and relationships. We all need to get our priorities in order. God and his people are often at the forefront of our offense list. It is not usually something we do intentionally and often quite subtly these neglects and abuses creep in to undermine our most precious relationships and destroy one of the most valuable commodities we possess, our families, friends and brethren. We often put up our pretty fronts around others, but the loved ones so often see a whole different face and attitude.
Those closest to us rub us the hardest. We would most like to blame them for being the problem with us, but in reality if we didn’t already have a problem then a lot of what they did wouldn’t irritate us so. Like the old saying goes, “You can’t get a person’s goat unless they have a goat to be got.”
The unconditional love of God prefers the other above themselves. It displays that preference by being affectionate. The connotation of our theme verse is to be tenderly reciprocating love and caring in a relational way as with a parent and child or husband and wife. It is preferring the other above yourself. Please join with me in making it our goal to set the priorities of our relationships and commitments straight. Let our God be at the forefront of all that we do, then our family, our relationships with each other, then those outside and then us. Let’s make it our first priority to invest in the eternal things and then the temporal.

Blessings,
kent

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