Does God Hate Fig Trees? Easter Challenge Monday
This post is apart of the Easter Challenge. It includes activities for tomorrow – Monday, March 25, 2013. Be sure to check out Celebrating Palm Sunday also. If you’re behind, no worries! Just pick one activity you can do with your spouse/family together.
“The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then He said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And His disciples heard Him say it.” Mark 11:12-14
On this day, we add figs to our Palm Sunday altar.
This passage is puzzling for many Christians. Why would Jesus curse a fig tree if it wasn’t even the correct season for figs? In the Holy Land, fig trees grew commonly, and its leaves and fruit would typically appear at the same time. To see a fig tree without fruit, but in full leaf, was unusual, and the tree was essentially dead. Jesus had every right to expect the fruit to be on a leafing tree, so when it wasn’t filled with figs, He took this example and used it to illustrate 2 powerful points.
First, the nation of Israel, like the fig tree, was dying and was going to be judged harshly for falling away from her Lord. Fig trees were often used to represent Israel so it comes as no surprise that we’d draw the same conclusions here in this passage. It was foretold in Jeremiah 8:13 and Hosea 9:10 that Israel would wither and become idolatrous and shameful, spiritually barren.
Second, Christ’s coming to earth, His death, and resurrection opened up God’s favor to all people, not just the people of Israel, His original chosen people. This cursing of the fig tree is a warning to all God’s people to bear good fruit. When we accept Christ, the fruits of the Spirit are evidence of the changes in our hearts, minds, and lives. Without fruit, we too, are spiritually dead.
Does God hate fig trees? No. Does He hate us when we don’t produce fruit? No. But God does want us to be useful as we were created to bear fruit. God does punish fruitlessness…
“I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit…Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing… By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples. As the Father has loved Me,so have I loved you. Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:1-2, 4-5, 8-11.
…but He does bless fruitfulness. He wants us to abide in Him. He wants us to be in intimate relationship with Him so that we can bear fruit of His good work in us. When we live in His love, we begin to exhibit His love. The closer we grow to the Lord, the deeper our love for Him and for others grows.
Bearing Fruit in Marriage
Just like a healthy fig tree should bear figs, and we should bear fruit in our faith walk, a healthy marriage should also bear good fruit. On Monday, challenge yourself to bear good fruit in your marriage.
1 John 4:7 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”
Celebrate and love your man his way today! Other great posts to check out: From Marriage Missions, 100 Ways You Can Love Your Husband His Way, From Time-Warp Wife 50 Ways to Love Him, and from CalmHealthySexy 6 Free Gifts to Give Our Husbands. Pick one thing from these lists and do it for your husband today to demonstrate your love for him.
Proverbs 5:18 “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.”
While this verse speaks to husbands, I believe the principle can be applied to wives too. Rejoice over your spouse today! Purpose to doo one thing together that you both enjoy. Thank God for the blessing of your spouse.
“…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3
Work to maintain a spirit of unity and peace this week in your home. Strive to make your home a place your spouse wants to come home to – a place where he can relax, and enjoy you. Don’t go to bed angry, but instead readily forgive. Be humble and willing to admit when you’re wrong. Work to keep the home clean and presentable – it’ll be less stressful and provide more time for other things – like spending quality time together, enjoying your families (if you have guests coming), and engaging in lovemaking.
Your spouse is not your enemy. But there will be times when your husband will test your patience. Be extra gracious this week and bear with him patiently.
Stormie Omartian writes in her book, The Power of Patience,
“Grow your faith. Patience means working on growing deeper in your relationship with God, especially when it appears that the only thing growing deeper in your life is the divide between you and your mate. Patience means remembering that it could be worse [except in cases of abuse], and deliberately looking for the good in the other person.“
If you catch yourself ready for a fight this week, ask yourself: “Does this argument (does my point) really count in the light of eternity?” If it doesn’t, let it go and look for the good in your husband.
- Kindness starts in the mind. Be kind with your thoughts. Think positively about your husband. Don’t dwell on the negatives in your marriage. Don’t judge your husband’s heart and don’t condemn his decisions. That’s God’s job, and you’re not your husband’s Holy Spirit. It’s not your job to convict your spouse – it’s your job to love and exhibit kindness toward your spouse.
- Kindness is spoken in words. Speak positively about your husband to others. Uplift him when he’s upset or discouraged. Use your words to soothe him when he’s feeling agitated or when he’s ill/injured. Affirm him when he makes good decisions. Challenge yourself this week and give him one compliment a day.
- Kindness is demonstrated via actions. Go out of your way to do something nice for your husband. Get him a drink when he’s working on something. Bring him clothes while he’s showering. Take the time to genuinely listen to his concerns or about his day.
We use the word “good” loosely in the English language. We say “good job” when someone has done a task well. We say “veggies are good for you,” because vegetables are beneficial to your health. We say “that house has a good foundation” meaning the house’s foundation is reliable and won’t crumble. We say that someone has a “good figure” implying attractiveness. But when we say someone is a “good person,” that statement is very subjective and muddled.
Fortunately, the Bible helps to clarify goodness. Apart from God, no one is good, and no one can do good. But with the Lord, we are filled with His goodness – His strength of character. The goodness spoken of in Galatians is the Greek word “agathosune” which refers to excellence of character. To bear goodness is to strive to grow in godly character. Take some advice from the lovely Proverbs 31 lady.
- Devote time to God and prayer this week. Easter can be very busy with relatives and activities, even “good” activities like church services and fellowship. But these can’t replace relationship with God. Don’t neglect intimacy with the Lord this week.
- Protect your husband’s good name.
- Work to bring your husband honor, not harm.
- Don’t be lazy, but work willingly and cheerfully to take care of your home.
- Sacrifice selfish desires (such as sleeping in longer) to serve your spouse.
- Be wise with your household finances and budget.
- Give graciously. Serve the less fortunate.
- Be prepared for unforeseen circumstances. Jami Leigh over at Young Wife’s Guide offers a great piece of advice in her post: Creating Your Own Home Management System.
- Be modest and respectful toward your husband in your appearance, dress, and actions.
- Speak wisely and kindly, and know when not to speak.
How can you continue to actively grow in your faith? What other fruits do you bear in your marriage? In what other ways do you demonstrate the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness in your marriage?
This post is apart of the Easter Challenge!
Linking Up With: