"Seeing a fig tree by the road, he [Jesus] 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.'"1
Today in the Word reported how "Andrew Carnegie, a poor Scottish immigrant turned powerful industrialist, became one of the richest men of the nineteenth century—and one of the most generous. It's estimated he gave nine out of every ten dollars he earned in oil, railroads, and steel to charity, an astounding total of $350 million over his lifetime. A strong supporter of free libraries and education, he believed that the rich had a moral responsibility to use their wealth to benefit others. Carnegie spread his wealth around, making philanthropy his life's priority."2
Obviously, very few people ever have this kind of wealth, but we all have something that we can give—be it large or small—to help in some way to make our world a better place in which to live.
The Apostle Paul said, "It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known."3 His priority was to spread the good news of the riches of the gospel message of Jesus Christ. To this he dedicated and gave his life.
I think just about all of us want to feel that our life has not been lived in vain—that we have made a difference in the world in which we live. When we come to the end of life's journey and meet Jesus face to face, how terribly sad it would be if we have nothing to offer him but "leaves" as it was with the tree Jesus referred to in today's scripture verse.
Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way. We start by setting priorities. Whatever comes first in our lives are our priorities. Let's make sure that God and living for him is at the very top of our list of priorities, remembering that we serve God by serving people.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to set priorities that are in harmony with your will so that, when I meet you face to face, I will hear your welcome words, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.' Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Matthew 21:19 (NIV).
2. Today in the Word, April 29, 2005.
3. Romans 15:20 (NIV).