Biblegateway Verse of the Day

Useless vs. Useful: Allowing God to work in our Faith

By Benjamin H. Liles

            The next day when they came out from Bethany, [Jesus] was hungry. After seeing in the distance a fig tree with leaves, He went to find out if there was anything on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples heard it. They came to Jerusalem, and He went into the temple complex and began to throw out those buying and selling in the temple.
He overturned the money changers’ tables and the chairs of those selling doves, and would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple complex. Then He began to teach them: “Is it not written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves!” Early in the morning, as they were passing by, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. ~ Mark 11:12-17, 20, Holman Christian Standard
            I bring up these verses in Mark up as a result of the Jewish people who defied the Lord God, their King. They say they honor Him above all things, but the text in Mark 11 suggests they do not honor God, or pray to Him. In fact, as Jesus’ words point out, it is a “den of thieves.” I wonder why Jesus would say anything the likes of that.
            If we go back to Ezekiel 15, we see Ezekiel being given a message by God about “The wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire as fuel, so I will give up the residents of Jerusalem” (Ezekiel 15:6). He’s telling Ezekiel that the people that inhabit Jerusalem have acted unfaithfully (see Ezekiel 15:8).
            The whole point is that when we say we belong to God, but we don’t do the things He’s called us to, by faith, we are far from Him. We are nothing but sinners in His eyes. Yes, God loves us immeasurably, but how long can we go on in our unfaithfulness thinking we can do the things of God and without faith?
            Christ cursed a fig tree that looked like it was bearing fruit, even though it had no fruit. God, in his just anger, was making a demonstration of Jerusalem and its inhabitants due to the fact they were being unfaithful to Him. I see a correlation here between the two. Why do we do the things we do when God desires of us to do His will, to be faithful, pure, and holy?
            This is just an opinion of mine, but I think it boils down to the fact when we go our way, thinking we can do better than God, He’s seeing as to whether we will stay loyal and steadfast to Him in those times of trial and tribulation, rather than doing things our way. He wants to see us being faithful; to do things in Him and His name, by faith.
            Furthermore, if anyone knows about fig trees, fruit would have been found on it since the leaves were leafy and broad. In the state the figs would have been there, the leaves protect the new fruit of the tree from the harshness of the sun. And yet, when Jesus looks fully at the tree and sees no figs on it, he sees that this particular fig tree isn’t producing after it’s kind.
            Faith, when mature enough, has fruit so that when others see it they can partake in the fruit thereof. So, what are the fruit of faith?  
            Paul tells us, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no Law” (Galatians 5:22-23, Berean Study). We have to remember that in Jesus’ time these Jewish people, from the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees a lot of legalistic and religious pomp was in demand more so than in doing the things of God on behalf of others.
            Think of it in this way: Jesus explains to them that a certain Samaritan did more good for a beaten Jewish man than did a priest, and a Levite. It took a Samaritan to have compassion on his half-cousin, this beaten Jew left for dead.
We read: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him up, and fled, leaving him half dead. A Samaritan on his journey came up to him, and when he saw the man, he had compassion. He went over to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on olive oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him. When I come back I’ll reimburse you for whatever extra you spend’“(Luke 10:30, 33-35).
So, how do we show God our commitment to Him by our faith? We love others as God loved us. We do those things that show God is in us and active in our lives. We give compassion; we show it to those who need it, regardless of rank or education. We do so because it honors God. We love others because God first loved us by giving Christ to us on the cross.   
When we claim Christ as being our Lord and Savior we act on those things, by faith, and doing those same things Jesus does on our behalf towards others. We may have days where “I just don’t feel like it” and we give everything over to the God who calls us to love others and to have faith in Him. As scripture says, even though the verse is talking about who then can be saved, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).  
Dare we to test God beyond His limits of His compassion and love in doing what He commands of us? To have faith and to live it out towards each other? I believe, and again this is my opinion, that when we declare ourselves to have been bought by the shed blood of Jesus, we need to let our testimony speak of His work and not rely on our own strength. We fail, but God never will. I pray this has touched your heart and helps you see we ought to let God work in our hearts and lives. In the name of Jesus. Amen.