By Their Fruit You Will Recognize Them? What does that mean??
17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.- Jesus, recorded in Matt 7
Jesus told us that you can tell the tree by its fruit. I was thinking about that recently. He also said that a good tree cannot produce bad fruit and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. When Jesus spoke, he did it in very black and white terms. We are a society that is very uncomfortable with black and white terms. We want all kinds of gray nuances. But concerning the fruits of our lives, there is no grey. A good person must produce good fruit and a bad person must create bad fruit. Everyone can tell what kind of person you are simply by looking at the fruit that you bear. It will be obvious to all who look. How naked and vulnerable does that make us?
The ‘fruit’ of our lives can mean several things. In Gal 5:22-23, Apostle Paul described what the Spiritual fruits are in our lives: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. But there are also other types of fruit in your life. Some obvious ones are your marriage, your children and your job. What are you producing in those areas? To me, these are the most obvious fruits of a person’s life and from them, you can tell all about the quality of that person’s character and inner being.
Does your spouse respect and love you? Do you love and respect them back? Can you communicate and pray with your spouse? Is Jesus the center and dominating force in your marriage? Or is satan and the world’s culture and priorities the center? Is there violence in your marriage? Is there cursing, screaming and hate there? Or is there love, patience and forgiveness? Do you fight for days, weeks and months or do you both never let the sun go down while you are both still angry and unforgiving? Do you love and like your spouse or do you have a tortured sort of love and dislike them very much? Are you still married or have you divorced? If you’ve divorced, how many times? Believe it or not, a bad marriage and divorce are fruits from your life– not your spouse’s. They have produced these too- but you can’t lay them at their feet. They belong to you equally. One person, living in accordance with God’s commands can go a long, long way toward making a marriage work. It takes two to tango.
What about your children? Do they know and love Jesus? This is the primary question for every parent. A child who doesn’t know Jesus will become bad fruit. Those who don’t know him or are hateful toward him will automatically produce ugly fruit, even when they are growing. A child that knows and loves Jesus will automatically produce good fruit themselves, even as they grow. Is your child respectful, kind, loving, generous and joyful? Most importantly, are they obedient to the Lord and to you? Do they mock or push other kids around? Do they curse, drink, do drugs? Are they selfish, full of rage, disdainful of their peers, liars, cheaters and thieves? Do they speak disrespectfully to their elders?
If they grow up to be then not only are they bad fruit, but you are a bad tree. You are a bad person, according to Jesus. You don’t get to just say, “Well, I tried my best. He was born that way. I can’t control his choices. You’re just lucky to have such easy kids. Mine were terrible, etc, etc, etc.” I’ve heard those statements too many times from parents. According to Jesus, how they turn out is based on your character and spiritual health. It’s very tough, but it is true. So, we had all better take a good look at our own kids and see what we see. They represent who we are as people. Don’t like what you see? Change yourself immediately.
We know other things about fruit bearing trees. We know that a fruit producing tree needs to mature before it can produce fruit. It must have time to live and grow strong before it can properly produce good fruit. It must receive the proper amount of sun- so it must be planted in the right location. Disease and insects can devour the young tree during its development and can sicken it or kill it, thus forever marring its ability to produce fruit. It must also be pruned properly during its formation or it will have too many branches, causing the tree to produce sparingly, on weak branches.
Therefore, don’t expect a young person to produce mature fruit. They can’t yet. They will make mistakes, but you must be there to tend to their spiritual needs, not just their physical ones. In order to grow up into strong, good adults, they will need to be given the Word, which is the soil, nutrient, water, and sun that they need. They must be taught about Christ. Bring them to church (the right place) where they can receive the sunlight of God. The disease and insects are satan and all the influences that he brings to our children through culture and sometimes, even through us, if we don’t put our own roots into Christ. Discourage them from having pagan friends, disrespectful friends and take them to the teen study group at your local church where they can meet and befriend Christian teens. They must learn to obey God all their lives. They must be disciplined when they go off in the wrong direction- that is the ‘pruning’ each tree requires to produce strong and many fruit. Proverbs 13:24 says,
“Whoever spares the rod* hates their children,
but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
When our children are young, we are their gardeners who provide the outside care they need. God has given us this awesome and wonderful responsibility as parents.
Once mature, a healthy fruit tree can begin to produce good fruit, but still requires yearly maintenance or it will ‘go wild’ again and fail to produce well. It must be watered and fed with the proper nutrients. Buildings and trees can’t be planted around it that might shade the tree. It can still get diseases and insects. It can eventually die if bad conditions go on too long, even though it started as a healthy tree. It normally can’t produce season after season of good fruit without a Faithful Gardener actively maintaining it. When we were children, we were nurtured by our parents. But when we became adults, who will care for us?
Can it be another tree- that in and of itself, also needs the same kind of outside care? Of course not. If it can’t care for itself, how can it care for us? We all need outside care to help us remain strong. Thus, we can’t depend on another human being to be our help. Jesus told us in Matt 23:
8“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah.
Thus, no other human is above us- that also means that they can’t be the ones to tend to our needs- they, themselves need a Gardener. That outside person, then, must be literally suprahuman. In other words, he must be God. The Bible tells us that when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we become as children again- we are born again spiritually and become Children of God, the Most High.
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.~ John 1
Thus, he becomes our Father. He will be the one who will now help us produce the good fruit the rest of our lives. We are not abandoned as adults, which I think is so loving and marvelous. He sent his Son, Jesus, to be our Gardener, our Pruner and our Soil from which we derive all sustenance. The way Jesus prunes us is through discipline, which every loving father must use to correct the path of his child. The way Jesus taught us to remain free of pests and disease in our lives is through constant supplication and prayer to our Father in Heaven. Also, through obedience- when we stay in God’s Word, we will not walk into satan’s temptations. We are to ask for forgiveness and give thanks to our God for all that he does. God, through his own loving nature and grace, ensures that we have full sun and plenty of water in which to thrive.
44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. ~Matt 5
As trees, we have no legs and are helpless in many ways. We are to lay our burdens at the feet of our Great God and trust in his Will for our lives. His Word is ever the soil from which we bring up food and water through our roots to the tips of our branches and finally, to the beautiful fruit we will bear. God’s sunlight, or his great Love & Grace, gives us the energy we need to turn his Word to good fruit. It is through obedience to his commands that we grow up strong in the Lord, just as our children grew up under our good teaching. If we only hear the Word of God but fail to obey it, then the nutrients can never enter into our cells and build us up. They may as well have never come into our bodies at all.
If we haven’t put our roots into the Word of God, then we can’t grow strong and produce good fruit. That is a fact. Jesus also told us that if we are not with him, we are against him. He said that we either gather with him or we scatter what good he has done. This is yet another black and white statement that makes people squirm.
“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?….30“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Jesus, recorded in Matt 12
We either put our roots into the soil of Jesus or we put our roots into the soil of satan. That’s it. There is no grey in-between soil. We either love Jesus or we hate him and every tree that belongs to him. We are his tree and love all his trees or we work for satan and wish to burn Jesus’ entire orchard to the ground. It all depends on where you plant your roots, right?
The last type of fruit is our work: the things we produce with our sweat. What do you produce on a day to day basis? Do your words and actions produce anguish in other people’s lives? Does it make others cry with pain or humiliation? Does your effort, words and thought result in gossip, back stabbing or the creation of rumors that make others more poor, more upset or hopeless? Do you refuse to witness about Christ? Do you mock God, cause others to mock God, and so, deprive everyone around from hearing the Word of God? If so, you are bearing bad fruit and are a bad tree. Therefore, if a person also steals, hates, spreads lies, refuses to reconcile, rejects apologies, refuses to sacrifice for their children or other vulnerable people, are sexually degenerate, rapes or sexually molest, are vengeful or penny pinching, then they can’t belong to God. If a person can’t say, “I’m sorry” or refuses to stop and cheer a stranger who is brokenhearted, they can’t belong to God. When you see one of these bad fruits in a person’s life, you will see many others. Do you know people like this in your life? Are you one of these people?
If you are a good tree, then the things you say and the things you do will help others to obey God. Your efforts will help them to know who Jesus and God are and what their commands are. Your words and actions will bring hope and life into the person’s life in the form of Jesus Christ and his Salvation. These are the very best fruits you can bear. Then, after those efforts, your words and actions should also make people feel more comforted than they did before they spoke to you, more cheered, more appreciated and more purpose filled. They should feel stronger, more clear eyed, better equipped and more built up. If your words and actions make people have these things in their lives, then you are bearing good fruit and are a good tree.
We either produce beautiful, delicious fruit or we produce ugly, misshapen, dried up and diseased fruit. It all depends on where you put your roots and who you have tending to you, doesn’t it? And you are in control of that choice and that choice utterly defines you as a person. Your fruit either recommends you or betrays you to the world. Are you happy and proud of your fruit or are you ashamed of it? If so, then turn your life to obedience of God’s commands. Submit yourself to the servitude of God. Accept Christ as your Lord and Savior and you will become the seed that landed on good soil. It will take a little time, but eventually, your life will explode with good fruit. That is God’s promise:
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, b
ecause the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
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