You Shall Know Them By Their Fruits (Matthew 7:20 NASB)
Our spiritual credibility is demonstrated by the “fruits” we produce. The fruit of a plant reflects its type and condition. So you can recognize an apple tree if you notice apples growing on the limbs. When you bite into one of the apples and it is crispy, sweet and juicy, you know that the tree is strong and healthy. However, if the apple hanging on the branch is dried out, shriveled and mushy, you would know that the tree is not in very good condition, and possibly almost dead.
In our lives today, the fruits we grow and produce are the visible, outward things we do consistently on a daily basis. Our fruit tells the real story. Regardless of what we try to convince others about ourselves, our fruit tells it like it is, about what we are really like in our secret thoughts, under the surface where no one can see. But our fruit exposes what kind of person we are on the inside.
The Wide-Screen Movie Version Of My Life
I remember in church when I was taught that there will be a final judgement day in heaven, when every thought we had and every action we took during our lives will be played on a big screen, in living technicolor for all to see how rotten we are. The purpose of the box office show is to shame us into behaving well while we are alive in order to avoid the embarrassment of the movie version of our life.
I’ve grown past the age of believing that there will be a public showing of my life on the silver screen. It would probably be too boring anyway. The truth is that, at some point, everyone will be able to see the person who lives in our skin, by our fruit.
On The Brighter Side
Many agricultural metaphors are used in the Bible. Often negatively as warnings for those who may hide their true intentions behind the right terminology to gratify their own egos. They are more concerned with gaining the approval of people, rather than doing right. The lesson for us is to pay attention to what we hear from religious leaders, and from other teachers who tell us why their ideas are correct, and anyone with a different point of view is wrong, and probably hell-bound.
The positive lessons are just as important. Although we are not likely to hear about them on the nightly news, there are an increasing number of people who quietly practice goodness and lovingkindness through their thoughts, words and deeds. Many of them have courageously stepped out of their comfort zones, and done something seemingly risky in order to help the less fortunate. Their selfless actions also tell a story about them, but in this case it is a story of gratitude, kindness, and compassion. They demonstrate goodness through their good deeds. The energy they project is wholesome and true, and even their failings and weaknesses are overshadowed by what they do to help those around them. When they ask for a donation, it is not seen as pushy or uncomfortable, because we know they have already been to the streets, and seen first hand what is going on, and have given their all to make a difference.
Beware The Paradox Of The Fruit
I think I can safely say that most spiritual truth has “gray” areas that often consist of paradox and questions. It is easy to write about the good and the bad fruit, and how it equates to good people and bad people. However, there is a very fine line where shifts take place, and bad seemingly becomes good, and good becomes bad. Therefore we must not generalize and put people in one box or the other. We can listen, observe, and pray for wisdom, but not condemn.
On one side, a person who sincerely says kind words and does kind deeds for others can slip into ego-fulfillment if he turns the spotlight on himself and begins to tell himself how good he is for doing the kind things that he does. This person has made the subtle shift over to seeking the approval of other people rather than doing right. Avoid judging this person as perfect.
Likewise, when an arrogant, self-serving person begins to notice others with a compassionate heart, and then responds with genuine care, this person has demonstrated real love. Avoid condemning this man as selfish.
Check out Luke 18:10-14 The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector; also Luke 10:30-36 The Parable of the good Samaritan; Matthew 6:1-18 An excerpt from The Sermon On The Mount