|Good tree bears good fruit|
“A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgement day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you”
(Matthew 12:33-37, NLT).
(Matthew 12:33-37, NLT).
Trees are identified by leaf structure and organization, bark, shape, fruit and even DNA. Some trees like walnuts produce seeds without fruit – nuts. So what was Jesus’ first point? He was talking about identifying a type of tree; he was talking about the qualities within a certain type of tree. He wasn’t comparing apple trees and orange trees; he was pointing to the difference between a good apple tree and a bad apple tree, a desirable orange tree and an undesirable orange tree. In that case, the proof is in the fruit.
The kind of fruit (in this context) Jesus had in mind was words. He was directing his comments to the Pharisees who had mocked the healing of the demon-possessed man by accusing Jesus of operating under the influence of Satan (Matthew 12:24). By this point Jesus had demonstrated that the opposite was actually true – his accusers had revealed that they (the Pharisees) were producing the fruit of Satan (blaspheming the Holy Spirit).
In Matthew 12:30-32 (refer to previous post), we read about what happens when we resist the work of the Holy Spirit. But the wider teaching of Scripture gives us good clues about the positive side of that process – what happens when we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and let God bring forth fruit in our lives. Apostle Paul put it very well in Galatians 5:22-23: “The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
Jesus’ words of confrontation in Scripture portion above may seem harsh to us, but his awareness of the Pharisees’ deep-seated unbelief required a kind of shocking language. The Holy Spirit used his words to crack their internal hardness or they simply rejected what he had said. Either way, they could never say they weren’t sternly warned. Think about this: Fruit quantity is not the same as quality. What a disappointment to bite into a beautiful fruit that is mealy or rotten inside. We must go beyond asking for fruit to ask God to grow good fruit in us. What kind of fruit have you been producing lately? And what is contained in the treasury of your heart?
Jesus, my Master Gardener, please in charge of growing good fruit in my life. Amen.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.