Every time I read the story of Jesus cursing the fig tree that was bearing no fruit I have this feeling that the act was out of His character. After all, it wasn’t the tree’s fault that it bore no fruit, and Jesus typically had compassion on the faultless. However, that is a simplistic view of the purpose of the cursed tree: to serve as a symbol of Israel and of its future. A tree is meant to bear fruit, and a tree that isn’t bearing any fruit is taking up valuable space in the orchard. Jesus was indicating that Israel was outwardly religious but it was missing fruit. It’s important for us to consider this, too. How easy it is to become outwardly religious but to fail to bear spiritual fruit. We read of the Pharisees with disgust, but I’m not so sure we’re much different than the Pharisees when we make following our religious traditions as important as or more important than loving the Lord with our heart, mind, and soul. From time to time we need to evaluate what kind of fruit our individual trees are producing. Being outwardly religious is of no value to God. Bearing fruit, however, is an indication of a vibrant, growing relationship with Him.