Over the years with the continual alteration of the English language, we realized for a short time that sick was cool, the latest rendition of dope means neither dense nor drugs, and “spilling the tea” has nothing to do with the common drink. “Rotten” however, still means decaying, putrid, and bad. Why the vocabulary lesson? So that we begin at the same starting point.
“By their fruits you will know them…every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.” Matt 7:16-18
This same chapter of Matthew opens with, “Stop judging, that you may not be judged.” Well, which is it? Where is the line between judgement and classifying fruit? It is there that many of us waffle back and forth fearful to make a pronouncement. “Gees, that banana is pretty spotty and spoiled …but who am I to judge?”
We do not judge people; we judge the fruit that is born from their decisions and actions. When I am unclear about someone’s motivation, I can look at their harvest over time and make an assessment. Why? To better determine their integrity, the genuineness of their words, reliability of their actions, and whether to put distance or stock in the relationship.
“So by their fruit you will know them.”Matthew 7:20
A weed will never develop into a stock of wheat in nature. A weed is a weed from start to finish. Jesus reminds us of this fact, “…nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.” I believe Jesus is helping us learn to discern the actions of others. From there we can make decisions on where we place our trust or spend our time. It means we are paying attention, and not simply taking words and actions at face value. In the world we live in, we are constantly immersed in media, non-stop news, and marketing. We must be prudent and take time to look beyond the fancy packaging to consider the fruit being produced. This necessary endeavor will uncover the rectitude of the produce.
At times, the fruit is easily distinguishable. But at other times, just as in nature, we need to wait for the fruit to ripen. Some fruit can only be measured over time to expose its true nature. We have all had the experience of desiring a beautiful piece of ripened fruit. We are excited to taste its sweet, juicy contents. On the outside it looks perfect and ready. However, upon first bite we discover it to be mealy, disgusting, and unsatisfying, so we toss it away in disappointment. When it comes to people, we may even feel betrayed by something that did not accurately reflect what was presented on the outside. I propose some helpful life lessons:
- Pay attention, not everything is as it presents itself. Dig deeper.
- If you hang around rotten trees and eat bad fruit, you will get sick. Sour stomachs are the symptom of a bigger issue.
- Do not continue to expect different results from the same behaviors.
- Fruit is a metaphor for both physical and spiritual yields. One can be alluring yet scandalous, the other captivating and fulfilling, bearing much good fruit.
- Pray for discernment and help in recognizing what is good
- Look to Scripture. The Word of God deciphers, clarifies, and elucidates.
Scripture is the Word of God and worthy of study and reflection. It is ever new, bearing good fruit in our lives and souls. Its’ advice and benefits are timeless. Wisdom seeks understanding and welcomes lessons from the Master Gardner, who helps us distinguish good from bad fruit.