Lessons From the Cursed Fig Tree

6 Profound Lessons From the Cursed Fig Tree: The Consequences of Unfruitfulness

Lessons from the cursed fig tree: Have you ever wondered why Jesus, known for His miracles of multiplication and healing, chose to curse a barren fig tree? This isn’t just a puzzling Bible story; it’s a profound lesson wrapped in a moment of divine discontent. Picture this: Jesus, hungry and hopeful, approaches a fig tree in leaf, expecting to find something to eat. But, alas, the tree, full of promise from a distance, bears no fruit. It’s a moment of profound disappointment, and Jesus’ reaction is both startling and thought-provoking.

As Christians, the concept of unfruitfulness or barrenness should strike us deeply. It’s something very awful and should be detested the most. Recently, after taking my fellowship members through a topic on the fruitful bough, I felt a strong urge to delve into the consequences of living an unfruitful life as a Christian.

In this post, we will dig deep into this story of the withered fig tree, unraveling its layers to extract practical lessons that can transform our lives. How often do we, like the fig tree, present a facade of spiritual health, yet fail to nurture the fruits of genuine repentance, faith and obedience? The story of the cursed fig tree is not just a heart-pricking reminder but also a call to introspection and true growth. Are you ready to embark on this enlightening journey together? Let’s get started!

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Lessons From the Cursed Fig Tree

To aid in our understanding and application, I have categorized these lessons into two primary areas:

  • Lessons on Barrenness
  • Lessons on Faith.

But, despite these categories, I will solely focus on the dangers of being unfruitful as a Christian and will not be covering the aspect of faith on this post.

Lesson 1: Jesus Was Hungry

I will begin these lessons from the cursed fig tree with a simple, yet profound truth: Jesus was hungry. This physical hunger led Him to the fig tree, expecting it to fulfill its purpose of providing fruit so that he can quench his hunger. However, this moment symbolizes more than a mere quest for physical sustenance. Just as Jesus sought physical nourishment from the fig tree, God today hungers for certain qualities in us, His followers.

Consider the story of Noah. When God looked down upon the earth, He was hungry for pleasure in His creation but instead saw corruption and violence. Amidst this moral decay, He found Noah, a man of righteousness, whose life bore the fruits that God desired. In Noah, God saw integrity, faithfulness, and obedience – the very essence of spiritual fruitfulness.

What, then, is God hungry for today? He yearns for a life rich in love, compassion, integrity, and a deep commitment to His teachings. God desires hearts that are fully devoted to Him, lives that bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, and importantly, the fruit of winning more souls – soul winning. These spiritual fruits should adorn our lives, satisfying the hunger of God for a relationship with His children who live in His image and likeness, and who actively work to bring more souls into His fold.

If we are to avoid the fate of the fig tree, our lives must resonate with the qualities that fulfill God’s hunger. This understanding paves the way for the next profound lesson we learn from this narrative.

Lesson 2: Jesus Will Come Looking for Fruits

In the same way Jesus approached the fig tree, seeking its fruit, God, in His righteous hunger, will come to us, looking for the fruits of our lives. This is a truth we cannot overlook. Just as the owner of the vineyard came looking for fruit on his fig tree, so too will God come to examine our lives. This isn’t a mere possibility; it’s an inevitable certainty. The message is clear and urgent: the life of every believer is like a tree that God has planted, and He expects to find it fruitful. We must understand that our lives are not our own; they are under the watchful eye of a God who seeks a return on His investment – the investment of His love, grace, and salvation in us. Are we bearing the fruits worthy of this divine cultivation? Remember, Jesus shed his blood for you!

Moreover, as surely as Jesus came once and approached the fig tree, He will come again, this time to gather His own. This impending return isn’t just a distant biblical promise; it’s a looming reality. Each day brings us closer to that moment when Christ will return. Let this truth sink in: the time to bear fruit is now. For when Jesus comes, He will be looking not only for those who are full of leaves but also for those who sincerely bear fruit fit for repentance. Are you prepared for this day? The time for spiritual complacency is over; the time for fruitful living is now.

Lesson 3: Full of Leaves but No Fruit: Having a Form of Godliness

The fig tree, lush and green, stood out with its abundance of leaves, visible from afar and signaling the promise of fruit. Its appearance was deceiving, for upon closer inspection, it bore no fruit. This is a poignant illustration of how individuals can appear outwardly religious, with all the trappings of faith, yet lack the true essence of belief. Just like the tree, they are noticeable and beautiful in their religious practices, but these are merely leaves without the sustenance of real faith.

Believers may pride themselves in various “leaves”:

  • regular attendance at religious services,
  • public prayers,
  • knowledge of scripture, or even
  • leadership roles within their religious communities.

These practices, while important, can become hollow if they are not underpinned by genuine faith and a personal relationship with Jesus.

The societal elevation of religious figures and the high regard for spiritual leaders in many parts of the world can sometimes exacerbate this issue. While respect for clergy and devout individuals isn’t inherently negative, it does place immense pressure on believers to maintain an outward appearance of holiness, often at the expense of nurturing the true essence of their faith.

The Apostle Paul warned of this very predicament, describing it as having ‘a form of godliness but denying its power.’ It’s a poignant reminder that the essence of faith lies not in its outward expression but in its inward authenticity and the fruits it bears. As believers, the challenge lies in ensuring that our ‘leaves’ of religious practice are not just for show but are a true reflection of a fruitful, deeply rooted faith. In a world that often values appearance over substance, the call to genuine godliness – to be full of fruit, not just leaves – remains as relevant and challenging as ever.

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Lesson 4: Jesus Hates the Hypocrites

This is also one of the lessons from the cursed fig tree. The reaction of Jesus to the fig tree is not just a matter of a tree lacking fruit; it’s a profound statement against hypocrisy. If the fig tree had been both leafless and fruitless, it’s likely Jesus would have simply passed it by, acknowledging it wasn’t the season for fruit.

But the tree’s leaves gave a false hope, a promise unfulfilled, and this is what elicited such a strong response. It’s reminiscent of the proverb, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Jesus’ disdain was for the pretense, the false appearance of fruitfulness, which is far worse in His eyes than being openly barren. This is a critical lesson: it’s better to be openly struggling yet sincere in our spiritual journey than to present a façade of holiness while being empty inside.

This state of being outwardly flourishing but inwardly barren is something every Christian must detest passionately. It’s a condition that Jesus condemned strongly, as echoed in the Book of Revelation, where He warns of spewing out those who are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold. The cursed fig tree serves as a powerful reminder of this. We must strive for authenticity in our walk with Christ, ensuring that our outward expressions of faith are deeply rooted in genuine love, repentance, and transformation. The lesson is clear: God cherishes the sinner who seeks Him with a true heart over the hypocrite who wears a mask of righteousness. Let’s commit to being genuine in our faith, bearing fruits that truly reflect our love for Christ.

Lesson 5: A Hypocrite and Unfruitful Christian is Cursed

The destiny of the hypocrite and the unfruitful Christian is a sobering reality, one fraught with dire consequences. Throughout Scripture, whenever Jesus pronounces curses, they are invariably directed at those embodying hypocrisy or barrenness. The Pharisees, with their ostentatious piety yet lacking in true godliness, and cities like Chorazin and Bethsaida, which witnessed His miracles yet remained unrepentant, serve as stark examples.

Consider the parable of the barren fig tree in Luke 13:6-9. For three years, the owner of the vineyard sought fruit on the fig tree, and finding none, he declared it should be cut down. “Why should it use up the soil?” he asked. This isn’t just a parable; it’s a profound truth about our purpose and God’s expectation. We, who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, are planted to bear fruit. Our failure to do so not only disappoints but warrants a serious response. Revelation 4:11 reminds us that we are created for God’s pleasure, but an unfruitful life fails to fulfill this divine purpose.

The state of barrenness, whether in physical or spiritual terms, is never desirable or pleasant. Anyone who has experienced it, like Hannah in her days of barrenness, can testify to its anguish and despair. As Christians, we must hold a deep aversion to being spiritually barren. This lesson is clear and urgent: strive earnestly against barrenness and hypocrisy.

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Lesson 6: Him Who Doesn’t Have, the One He Has Will Be Taken From Him

The fate of the fig tree serves as a vivid illustration of a profound biblical principle found in Luke 8:18 (NIV): “For whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.” This principle, exemplified in the story of the fig tree, is both a warning and a lesson. The fig tree, despite its abundant leaves, was ultimately stripped of everything, left with nothing, echoing Matthew 21:19, where Jesus says to the fig tree, “May you never bear fruit again!” and immediately the tree withered.

This lesson is a call to introspection and genuine spiritual cultivation, as highlighted in James 2:17 (NIV): “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” It’s not enough to have the appearance of faith; we must have its substance. Just as the fig tree’s leaves were taken away because they served no fulfilling purpose without fruit, so too can our superficial aspects of faith be rendered meaningless if they are not backed up by genuine love, righteousness, and obedience to God.

This is a stark reminder that God values authenticity and depth in our spiritual lives, as stated in 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV): “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Let this lessons urge us to cultivate a faith that is deep, genuine, and fruitful, so that we may not only retain what we have but also receive more from the Lord.

John 15:1-2 (NIV):

  1. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
  2. He 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.”

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