March 14th, 2013: The Twenty-Sixth Day of Lent
March 14, 2013 § Leave a comment
“A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.”
~Matthew 7.17, 18~
After asking the rhetorical questions about certain plants producing different kinds of fruit, Christ continues with his imagery. Good trees produce good fruit, and bad trees produce bad fruit; simple as that. Good trees don’t produce bad fruit, and bad trees don’t produce good fruit. Things just don’t work that way.
So, Christ tells his audience to be aware of the fruit of ministers. If one can see “bad fruit” in the life of a minister, it should be cause for concern. “Fruit” reveals the nature of the tree. A tree is incapable of producing fruit of a different kind. Ministers, like all people, are incapable of suppressing their true nature forever. There may be smoke-and-mirror acts, or things going on behind closed doors, but true natures will be revealed.
It’s good to ask at this point, “What does good fruit look like?” Well, it looks like the realities of the Kingdom of Heaven. It looks like the Beatitudes. It looks like persecution; it looks like lamps shining. It looks like forgiveness, purity, and turning the other cheek. It looks like praying for one’s enemies and living in humility. Fasting, prayer, simple living, and lack of worry, not to mention grace for others. Persistence in prayer and devotion to the way of Christ – all of these are marks of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Again, God uses broken people to accomplish his perfect will. It’s a good thing too, because all of us are broken in some way! But Christ tells us that the Kingdom of Heaven has realities that can be spotted in people. Such people can be trusted with the gospel; such people can be trusted with people. In the coming verses, Christ will begin to speak of judgment for false prophets. As we discussed earlier, any time we attempt to discern the fruit of others, we must already be engaged in a process of discerning our own fruit. Lent is a perfect time to do that.
Lord Christ, please help me to see insightfully into the lives of those claiming to bring your truth to the world; but more importantly, help me to see myself truthfully so that I may be growing more and more into your image. Amen.