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The Fruitless Fig Tree

April 2, 2010

The Fruitless Fig Tree

By: Carole Hicks

I once heard a sermon about the sins of commission … and the sins of “omission.”  Do you know the difference?  I’m not completely convinced that there is that big of a difference.  He said that all sin basically falls into one of these two categories.

The sins of “commission” describe things we did or do, and obviously should not. Such as, “I lied and I shouldn’t have. I committed a sin.”

The sins of “omission” are those that can be categorized as “NOT doing what we should have.”  As humans, we have a tendency to measure sins on a different scale that God uses, and usually, we don’t give as much weight to the sins of “omission.”  But in fact, these sins can often times cause more destruction in our lives and the lives of others, than sins of commission.

Passivity toward situations that require our attention or action is a sin of omission. For example, “I should have spoken up and taken a stand, but I didn’t want to be the only one. I was afraid of what others would think.”  Sometimes, we sit on our hands, say or do nothing, ignore a situation or person who needs our attention … take a passive approach to the calling or mission God has given us. James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

When we do things that God has forbidden … things that are more obvious and visible to us and others, we feel sorry about that, and will/should ask for God’s forgiveness.  But, the sins of “omission” are not as forthright, and can be easily dismissed or ignored. While we might think that we can fly under radar with those “sins of omission” — the TRUTH is that these sins (if left unconfessed and unrepented) will wreak tremendous havoc on our fellowship with God and others, as well as our self-esteem, self-respect and self-image.

I have read in a commentary that the sin of omission is “the sin of knowledge without practice.”  Jesus spoke of such in a number of parables.  Such a person is described to have “faith that is empty” if he only offers well wishes (or “prayers”) to the cold, hungry, lonely or lost person.  Being a follower of Christ is and SHOULD BE characterized by doing what we are POSITIVELY called to do. And evidently, this was/is something that Jesus takes seriously!

Matthew 21:18-19

 Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 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.

This “fig tree” did not have the intelligence, conscience or reasoning that God has given each of us to “know what is right, and what we are called to do.”  It was just a tree, but a tree that was not living up to its potential and purpose … a tree that was NOT doing the right thing!  So, it withered away … never to be able to bear fruit again.

Being a “good Christian” is more than just “not drinking, smoking, cursing or running around on your spouse.”  As followers of Christ we are called to tell the Good News, to “go ye therefore and teach all nations,” to feed the hungry and give water to the thirsty, to take care of the sick, elderly, widowed and orphans.

Jesus commands us, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”  Deny yourself means to put others before you … to not worry about your own acceptance or rejection from the crowd … to “not store up for yourselves treasures that moth and rust will soon corrupt.”  It means “loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength,” and “loving your neighbor as yourself.”

It means … walking as Jesus walked — serving others and not sitting idly by while you KNOW that someone needs help, encouragement, love and friendship.  It all boils down to “doing unto others as you would have others do unto you.”  

If you felt dismissed, ignored or forgotten, would it lift your spirits for someone to call and say, “Hey, let’s go for a walk on the Greenway, or get a cup of coffee.”

If you were scared to join a group or go to a new place (like church), would it help for someone to say, “I’ll go with you,” Or “You were missed last week.”

If you were so overwhelmed with life circumstances, would it help for someone to just say, “I’ve been there, too, let’s work on this together.”

I think often we all nestle into a deep mode of self-protection because it is just easier (and less controversial) to be passive, than to take steps to do the right thing and make a difference in the lives of others and your own personal circumstances.  Throughout history, many, many people have suffered great injustices simply because “good men failed to do the right thing.”

In all honesty, we understand that we must turn away Satan’s vices. But turning away from evil while remaining idle and not doing the work/mission that God has called us to do IS the sin of OMISSION!  Satan loves passivity and excuses, ineffective Christians and fruitless fig trees!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen Wood permalink
    April 2, 2010 7:11 pm

    Wow, this is really getting to the root of it all. Wonderful read, Carole. Thanks for sharing especially during this wonderful Easter season.

  2. Ann permalink
    April 3, 2010 9:46 am

    I really should be asleep but this was a great read. My mother often talked about our sins of omission and how they are the same as sins of commission. Thank you for sharing.

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