NOTHING BUT LEAVES…


MARK 11:12-14 –” And on the next day, when they had departed from Bethany, He became hungry. 13 And seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And He answered and said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.”  NASB

If you read the Pilgrim’s Progress, you will recall that the interpreter took Christiana and her family into his “Significant Rooms” and showed them the wonders he had formerly exhibited to Christian, and then the story continues…

When he had done that, he took them out into his garden and had them come to a tree whose inside was all rotten and gone, and yet it grew and had leaves.  Mercy asked, “What meaneth this?”  “This tree,” said he “whose outside is fair, and whose inside is all rotten, is that to which many may be compared that is in the garden of God, but indeed will do nothing for Him; whose leaves are fair, but their heart good for nothing but to be tinder in the devil’s tinderbox.”

That was Bunyan’s way of putting into allegory what he had preached in his sermon on the ‘Barren Fig Tree.’  Several things need to be drawn out in this consideration.

God has a right to expect fruitfulness from all His creatures.  Fruitfulness is to be a normal part of the Christian life.  On one occasion Jesus told His disciples that He had ordained them so that they would not only go forth but bring forth fruit and their fruit would be of the lasting kind.  (John 15:16).

This account reveals that God expects what is appropriate to the nature and ability of the person.  God expects nothing out of harmony with the way He has made and gifted us.  God expects that each person brings forth his or her own fruit.  We must remember that it is not the vineyard that bears grapes but the vine.  It is not the orchard that bears figs, but the tree.  God expects a proportionate quantity and quality of fruit from each person.  Use the talents and gifts He has bestowed upon you, not what someone else has and does.

Consider it this way, suppose one lone fig tree was standing in a place where it got a little more sunshine and refreshing moisture and its roots run deeper into the soil drawing more nutrients.  That fig tree should produce more fruit and fruit of the richest quality.  That principle is found in a single scriptural formula – “Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required.”  No matter what your gift is, use it to the fullest!

We should always remember that God always looks for fruit at the proper time for fruit-bearing.  In this particular incidence, the time was not yet.  It is important to note that the figs come before leaves on this type of tree.  Therefore, it gave all the appearance of bearing fruit but had nothing but leaves.  Jesus had every reason to believe there was fruit on the tree.  If you will, the tree was a hypocrite.  It had the appearance but no substance.  By its outward appearance, it presented the image that it was fruitful, but it was barren. 

Jesus used this event to teach his followers about the peril of profession without equivalent performance and fruit.  He did not ask for fruit as soon as the tree was planted but waited until it was mature.  He respected the laws of growing and ripening.

God is mocked by professions that do not produce fruit.  Jesus came for figs but found only leaves.  He responded to hypocrisy in a manner that demonstrates how God views hypocrisy.  It is not only possible but evident that some merely profess and have an outward show but no fruit.  When fruitlessness is present the tendency is to try to hide it through meaningless professions that sound good but have no substance.

Fruit is the product of proper relationships and conditions.  For a tree to be fruitful it endures pruning, is fertilized, watered, cultivated, and bathed in sunshine.  As believers, we must endure the chastening of the LORD, and receive the fertilization, watering, cultivation, pruning, and the sunshine (Sonshine) of God’s Word, Prayer, and interaction with the Holy Spirit.  The Fruit comes from the Vine, we are simply the branches.

In the final analysis, God will give false professions their just due.  The decision will be final with no additional appeals.  We are God’s workmanship.  He has made us with His own hands and expects us to produce fruit according to the talent, gifts, training, and opportunity He has granted to us.

God does not expect us to produce fruit according to what another produces.  He expects us to bloom where we are planted and exercise the gifts and talents, He has given us.  The plans we make or boast we declare are not what God is looking at, He is looking at the fruit. 

God’s desire is commitment for obedience is better than sacrifice. God has given each of us a measure of faith and distributes gifts and talents to each of us according to His purpose for us.  Our desire and ambition should be to be useful and productive for the Kingdom of God.

God bless you as you enjoy this day!

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