Thursday, February 26, 2015

By their fruit...

Week 8:

Matthew 7:16-20 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 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.

Luke 6:43-45 43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

One of the amazing characteristics of Jesus was his ability to teach common concepts.  What Jesus said made sense.  No matter what people may think about Christians, it is hard to not see how wise Jesus was.  I believe that was some of the reason he had such a large following. 

The two passages above are a great example of something just making sense.  I heard a speaker just the other day make a quick reference to “…by their fruit you will recognize them.”  So many times, when I hear things as simple as that phrase, the wheels in my head begin to spin.  This phrase made me realize two things:

·         I tend to judge people by their fruits.  It is a matter of simple integrity.  Don’t tell me, show me.  Human Communication is my training and background.  I am tuned in to body language and action.  I can spot quickly when someone’s words do not line up with their actions.  The fruit, is the action or behavior based on what the person values and believes.  A person may tell me something, but I believe it when it happens.
·         The fruit does not lie.  In this world, the measure of a person’s character is his/her action.  The truth of the words spoken, will show in action and behavior. 

Unfortunately, many Christians use this passage to create separation.  Instead of helping someone to work on his/her inside to match the outside, many take the initial judgment and “write off” the person as one to be “thrown into the fire”.  These Christians become elitists and begin to isolate themselves from the world they are charged to help bring to Jesus (I referred to this somewhat in my blog Going to the Country Club, or is that the Church…?).  However, in most cases, those who have written people off actually practice the same inconsistency between what is said and what is done.  (Remember the passage about the speck of sawdust and the plank?) Sadly, I have been one of those myself, and will likely fall into that trap sometime again. 

Before this begins to go too far down a path of judging poor Church behavior, I do want to note that the Matthew reference is in context of watching for false teachers.  Not only is this passage something common for us to notice about life, it is a way of discerning truth in the kingdom. 

The main point I wanted to make this week was how Jesus would point out common things we already do and point toward the value of that practice.  God wired in us simple truths, abilities, and discernments to help us in our daily walk.  Jesus comes along and redirects some of the misguided uses of those abilities.  I continue to be amazed as I study and encounter Jesus and his teachings.


1.      What came up for you as you read these two passages?
2.      Have you been guilty of judging fruits to the point of separation?  Give an example.
3.      After reading this, do you notice how you are tuned in to the “fruit” of others?  What do you notice?
4.      What are some other common things that Jesus pointed out and clarified?
5.      Pay attention this week to how you notice people’s fruit in their lives.  Pay particular attention to your reaction.  Allow God to reveal to you what that reaction may be about.

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