Fruitful vs Fruitless

August 19, 2019

‘Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He [Jesus] was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away’ (Matthew 21:18-19). The fig tree, a symbol of prosperity and peace, withers because it is fruitless…“The fig tree is a parable of those who have heard God's word, but who fail to bear the fruit of obedience…it is also a warning to all people, in all times, of the importance of not only hearing the God's word, but putting it into action…He curses the tree also to warn those in every generation of what will befall anyone who fails to listen to His message.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Matthew 21:19, Antiochian Archdiocese)

 

“Idolatry, putting anything, even the good things in life, first before God; self-will, thinking of and putting ourselves first before others (not to be confused with taking good care of ourselves so we can serve others); and of course pride, the vice of all vices that keeps us locked into both of these things, are what make the difference between being fruitful and fruitless. We easily get beguiled by the enemy, our own thoughts, and think personal happiness and self-fulfillment are the goals of a fruitful life, even though seeking these things outside of being a branch to Christ’s vine (John 15:1-8) results in fruitlessness. We really only gain happiness and fulfillment through God not self. By the time we wake up to this realization it may be too late. The fruitful life is simple – seek God first with all your heart (Matthew 6:33) and love one another as He loves us (John 13:34). We can trust Him, if we do these things, to give us the desires of our heart and use us to bear much fruit for ourselves and others simultaneously.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

 

“To seek one’s own good at the expense of the neighbor, especially if it causes the neighbor to stumble, is to sin against Christ, as Paul warns the Corinthians (cf. 1 Cor 8:12). To seek one’s own good at the expense of the neighbor is to act from a divided heart, the condition of anxious believers, who make the word of the kingdom unfruitful and thus are condemned on the day of judgment (cf. Mt 7:21–23). To seek the neighbor’s good, on the other hand, to build up the neighbor even at the expense of one’s own freedom in Christ, is to actualize the saving pattern of Jesus’ kenosis, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phi 2:5–8). To seek the neighbor’s good at one’s own expense, in other words, is to have the mind of Christ, a sign that the word of the kingdom has indeed been fruitful.” (John Barnet)

 

“The fruits of the earth are not brought to perfection immediately, but by time, rain and care; similarly, the fruits of men ripen through ascetic practice, study, time, perseverance, self-control and patience…The soul which has found the Lord, the true treasure, by seeking of the Spirit through faith and much patience, works out the fruits of the spirits with much ease.” (St. Anthony the Great, St. Makarios the Great)

 

“All of us eat the fruit of our own decision and choice.” (Rick Renner)

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