Let’s take a look at Jesus and the fig tree from verses 18 and 19. Jesus was hungry and he saw that the fig tree had leaves on it. A fig tree with leaves should have fruit on it. That’s the way they’re supposed to work. So when Jesus saw the leaves, he expected fruit. But when there were none, he cursed it.
The natural question here is, “Why are we given this picture? What are we to learn from this?”
If we profess to be followers of Jesus, there are certain expectations God has for us. When we ask Jesus to come into our lives, when we ask Him to be our Savior, we are also asking Him to be our Lord, our King, our Master. In John 14:15 He said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” In John 15:10 He said, “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” So yes, there is the expectation that when we ask Him to save us, we will give Him the authority to expect us to exhibit different behaviors than we did before.
If we don’t, then we have not really put our faith in Him. We call ourselves Christians, or followers, but we really are not.
If we truly are followers, our lives will bear fruit. What kind of fruit? The Apostle Paul, in Galatians 5 tells us some of the fruit. Listen: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
If we call ourselves believers, but our lives do not begin to produce this fruit, we are like the fig tree that had leaves but no fruit. From a distance it looks good, but get close enough to really see it and its barrenness is obvious. It is good for nothing.
When we accept Jesus, we must surrender ourselves completely so that the Holy Spirit can begin the process of making us in the image of Christ. When we do that, the fruit of the Spirit will begin to grow, and we will be amazed at how God will begin to use us for His glory.