Useless vs. Useful: Allowing God to work in our Faith
By Benjamin H. Liles
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
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
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?
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.