“And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.” (Matthew 21:19, ESV)
We stand at the beginning of a New Year. Many of us are contemplating how we are going to make this new year better than last. We start to consider resolutions and goals to accomplish more.
But as I started my planning for 2022, I was reminded about a story when Jesus was traveling from Bethany to Jerusalem (see Matthew 21:18-22). On the way, Jesus sees a fig tree that had produced leaves but no fruit. In response, Jesus curses the tree and says, “may no fruit ever come from you again!” Immediately, the fig tree withers.
It might have seemed harsh for Jesus to have done this. But the tree served no purpose. It was taking up space while contributing nothing. It would not make sense for the farmer to continue to put the time, effort, and resources into the barren tree. The space would be better served by a tree that actually produced fruit.
What are the things in your life that are taking up space yet not producing fruit? What are the things that you are investing time, effort, and money in but are not seeing a return? What are some of your efforts that get in the way of being able to embrace your greatest longings? Learn from Jesus and curse your fig tree.
If your life is like mine, it is full of commitments. And you have found yourself having made too many commitments. You have urgent commitments that get in the way of your most important commitments. Many of the commitments we have are like the fig tree that produced no fruit. So what are the fig trees that you have to curse?
As valuable as a start doing list may be, I often find the most valuable list is the stop doing list. You may need to be ruthless and harsh like Jesus. The fig tree had leaves. It looked worthy of its place. But what looks good to you is not always good for you.
- Look at your calendar. What is an appointment to cancel?
- Look at your task list. What is a to-do to remove?
- Look at your checkbook. What is an expense to cut?
- Look at your phone. What is an app to delete?
- Look around your home. What is an item to discard or sell?
- Look at your daily routine? What is an activity to eliminate?
- Look at the relationships in your life. What is an acquaintance to detach?
So many of our lives are over-filled. There is a freeing feeling when we detach ourselves from unprofitable commitments. There are few words more powerful than “NO” to allow us to make a more valuable contribution to God’s kingdom.
Curse your fig tree!