Discerning the Fruit
Please review the scripture from the weekend: Luke 6:43-45
These verses use the tree metaphor to share a truth that sounds obvious, but is very profound: that what we put out into the world is always a result of what’s inside us. No matter how we try to mask our words and actions as righteous, if we’re full of pride, envy, or hatred, those words and actions will be tainted by the evil filling us up.
As I reread it, though, the metaphor began to trouble me. I felt like it represented a very black-and-white view: there are only good trees and bad trees. Aren’t things more gray than that? We, as Christians, understand that we aren’t and can’t be perfect. If we could, Jesus’s sacrifice wouldn’t have been necessary. But we also understand that Jesus’s life is an example of goodness, love, and charity we are called to follow. So if we have both good and evil inside us, where do we fit into the metaphor of good and bad trees?
That was the question bothering me until I took a step back and refocused on the end of the passage: “for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.” The point is not that the trees (us) are fully good or fully evil, with no middle ground. That would be a hopeless, bleak view of the world and our spirituality. Rather, the point is that the quality of our “fruit” depends on what we have in our hearts. While we all fall into the trap of sin, if we keep Jesus and the love He represents central in our hearts, we’ll produce good fruit. Being a good tree and bearing good fruit isn’t about ridding ourselves of our sinful nature—an impossible task. It’s about keeping our focus on Christ because it’s only through Him that we can be perfected.
Holy God, thanks for sending Jesus not only to sacrifice his life for us, but to provide us with the example of bearing good fruit. Help us keep our focus on You so that we know, even when we fall short, that Your love makes us whole and good. Amen
Written by Preston Thiemann
Preston Thiemann and his wife, Rachel, live here in Lincoln. He is the Web Content Coordinator for the ASEM Marketing team at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, where he’s worked since April 2015. At Sheridan, he also plays guitar with the Praise Band and is active in Sheridan’s 20s & 30s group called Second Quarter. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, watching movies and spending time with friends.