5 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: ‘Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place for their own good, into the land of the Chaldeans.
6 “‘For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up.
7 “‘Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.'”
Do you have a heart to know the Lord your God? Do you desire to learn more about Him, to constantly be trying to understand His ways and His will? Do you look at His Bible as His true Word, the voice of the Almighty God? Do you love your God or do you just like Him? Is your desire to spend more time with Him, or merely to grudgingly give Him a little time every Sunday? Do you pray to Him unceasingly?
The measure of our desire to know God is in inverse proportion to our personal desires. The more we seek to satisfy ourselves or satisfy the whims of society, the less we seek to know God and satisfy Him. Our hearts are full of ourselves, and so there is little room for the God-shaped hole that we all have and should seek to fill. We give in to the flesh, explaining it away as simply following our “nature”–forgetting, of course, that all nature is warped and broken by sin since Adam. (Genesis 3:17) Rather than being freed by the Holy Spirit to walk in the liberty of the righteousness of Christ, we choose instead to keep our hearts captive to lust and greed and pride and idolatry. But God wants to bring us back from that captivity, to restore us and plant us in a fruitful place, to give us a whole heart for Him.
In my own life, I know I once spent most of my time caught up in my own desires. Because I wanted to satisfy myself, it was easier on my conscience if I just did not believe in God. Deep inside me there was a part of my heart that desired to know God, but the rest of me denied Him. But when my life had been broken due to my own sin, then I finally did seek Him–but even then, only as a last resort. Now that I’ve found Him, I realize that I need to know Him more. Although I still struggle with repentance, my heart is consumed by returning to Him. I want to be one of God’s people, and I want Him to be my God. I don’t want my old lusts and pride to be the deity of my waking hours, I want God to be my Lord all the day long. I don’t want to be a withered fig on a broken branch, I want to be the healthy fig plucked from my captivity by the hand of God and planted where He would have me bear fruit of my own.
You see, in the heart of every fig is a seed. And if we are fruitful, then every bit of fruit we bear has within it the seed of the gospel. Every place we bear fruit for God, we are planting a new seed that itself can bear fruit. And every heart we touch with the love of Christ is implanted with the seed of God’s love. Given the right care and work, those we touch with the gospel will themselves bear fruit, their hearts will be transformed into whole hearts desiring God. But we must tend them, we must nurture them. We cannot simply drop the seed in someone and expect them to find water on their own. (1 Corinthians 3:6-9)
Our Savior told us to speak the gospel to every creature, but is that enough? No, because He further told us that we should make disciples of all nations. Making a disciple isn’t simply speaking the gospel and letting it go at that. Making disciples takes planting and weeding and watering and pruning, just as Jesus did with His disciples. (John 15:1-6) Will we allow those to whom we speak the gospel to become withered and unfruitful? Will we allow them to become bad figs? I should hope not, because God has plans for the bad figs, too.
8 “‘And as the bad figs which cannot be eaten, they are so bad’–surely thus says the LORD–‘so will I give up Zedekiah the king of Judah, his princes, the residue of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt.
9 “‘I will deliver them to trouble into all the kingdoms of the earth, for their harm, to be a reproach and a byword, a taunt and a curse, in all places where I shall drive them.
10 “‘And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence among them, till they are consumed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers.'”
We must add to our faith, and add to the faith of others, building each other up in fruitfulness for the Lord. We must desire to know our God, not just believing in Him but seeking His will and His glory in all we say and do. As the apostle Peter reminded us, beyond our mere faith we should seek to be virtuous, to know more about our God, to be self-controlled and to persevere, to be godly men and women, to show brotherly love as Christ did, and to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind. (2 Peter 1:5-8) And if the Word of God is not a fire within us–driving us to know more of Him and to help others know more of Him–then what does that say about our zeal for the Lord? How can we be fruitful if we ourselves are not planting and tending the seed of the gospel?
When Christ came to be sin for us, He brought with Him the Holy Spirit of God, and the Spirit now dwells in us to give us a heart for God. If we truly have a heart to know God, then we must seek Him in all our ways, bearing fruit for His glory and in His name. And if we are to truly be fruitful, then we must also help others bear fruit, tending and helping them just as our loving Father takes care of us. A fig tree is either fruitful or unfruitful based on the care we give it. So, which would we rather be?
Holy Lord God, You have plucked us from our unfruitful lives and planted us in places where we may not think we can bear fruit, but I believe that You will help us to be fruitful. You truly shall provide the increase, so long as we are faithful and seek to know You more. So, Father, please continue to give me a heart to know You, continue to make my heart wholly yours. Let me be Your child, and know, Lord, that You are my God. Amen.