Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals for October 3-4 are provided by Joanna Tzen of Grace Covenant Church (Philadelphia).
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry.19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered
My mother-in-law has a fig tree in her backyard that has been growing for years. She cares for it by picking the fruit daily so that birds do not get to it. The figs are especially sweet because they are ripened on the vine, as opposed to after they are picked. I had never seen a fig tree before and when I ventured out specifically to take a closer look, I was amazed by the amount of fruit on the tree.
This is a familiar passage to many of us, but sometimes when we read this passage, indignation may still be the first emotion that comes to mind. What’s the big deal that the tree has no fruit? Does it really have to wither? What Jesus wants to teach us is that it is not about not having fruit—but pretending that we do. Fig trees do not produce fruit until they have leaves. Jesus expected to see fruit because of the leaves.
In the same way, Jesus does not want us go through the routine of religion: going to church, showing up at family group (or cell group), clocking in a certain number of hours at church activities—meanwhile our hearts are far from Him. In other words, are we looking to our own performance in these religious tasks as some form of alternate savior? This performance-oriented mindset will make us not much different than a person who states they do not believe in Jesus as Savior, as it can be just another form of seeking to keep control of our lives.
Jesus warns us that the Lord will see the heart; He cannot be fooled. Let us not delay in coming to our Heavenly Father with honesty and sincerity. Do not be afraid to show Him what is in your heart. Bring all of it—anger, bitterness, sadness, doubt. He is Comforter, Redeemer, Savior and Lord.
Heavenly Father, forgive me when I put on the robe of religiosity and withhold my heart from You. The truth is, there is no place I can go that is away from You (Ps. 139). Let me remain humble before You. Lord, I want to be authentic and honest with You about where my heart is. I desire any goodness on the outside to be a reflection of what the Holy Spirit has done on the inside. Thank you that You are faithful to complete the good work You have begun in me (Phil. 1:6).
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Thess. 2-3