What Kind of Tree Are You?


It’s Not What’s In Your Wallet, but What’s in Your Heart!

I just finished watching an episode of “Master Chef Junior,” a competitive cooking program that tests the precocious culinary skills of pre-teenagers, ages 8-13. Astoundingly, one of the phrases most commonly used by these children during the program was, “OH, my God!”

Little do these children realize, of course, that they are using the name of the Lord God in vain, one of the prohibitions of the Ten Commandments.  The word “vain” means “empty,” which means that they are using the name of the Lord God, but not giving Him the esteem and honor He deserves. They are appealing to God with their words, but their appeals are empty, without even acknowledging His existence or presence in their lives.

Even more disturbing are the many times I see the many “OMG” exclamations every day on Facebook, not to mention the many other acronyms that refer to sexual intercourse, excrement, or urine.  

When I was a child, I was taught not to use such words, even though I wasn’t always provided a positive example of what not to say.  Therefore, I didn’t have a very good understanding about why I was forbidden from using such words.  I was just told that they were “bad words,” and I was not to say them.  Unfortunately, such words also appear on many Christians’ Facebook pages, at least in the form of quotations from other posts, or “shares.”

Jesus makes clear in the following passage from Luke’s Gospel, however, that a tree is known by the fruit it brings forth.  Consequently, we can know what kind of tree we are by the fruit that comes forth from our lives, or more specifically out of our mouths, or from our pens, texts, or Facebook posts.  

For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? (Luke 6:44-46)

Of course, most Christians are familiar with the Apostle Paul’s teaching on the “Fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23 to inform the Church what kinds of fruit the Holy Spirit brings forth in those who allow Him to live in us fully:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

The metaphorical application of a fruitful tree to a person who is living a fruitful life in the Lord is not unusual in the Scriptures.  One of the most obvious examples is in the First Psalm:

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers. (Psalms 1:1-3)

This passage contains the essential truths about fruitfulness as it relates to our lives as compared to a living tree.  If we truly wish to be fruitful, we must keep these conditions:

  1.  We must not associate with, or be influened by, ungodly people.  Doing so will ultimately fill our minds and hearts with sinful thoughts and habits.
  2. We must delight in the Word of God, meditating on the Word at all times and filling our hearts with the truths of the Word, the primary prerequisite for building faith in our lives, without which it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God!”  (Romans 10:17).


Our Words Reveal Both Our Character and the Faith in Our Hearts

Aligning these Scripture verses together in this way clarifies how the fruit of obedience and holiness arise in our lives.  The ultimate source is the Word of God as it lives and dwells in our hearts, producing the faith that brings obedience, righteousness, and blessing.  In addition, Jesus reveals in Matthew’s Gospel what the source of all good and bad fruit is in our lives: 

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. (Matthew 12:33-35)

We have a common saying today that relates essentially the same truth with regards to computer and internet technology: “Garbage in; garbage out.”  In other words, just as with computers, what comes out of our mouths will either be “garbage” or good fruit, depending on what we have received into our minds and hearts.  As Christians, therefore, we display who we are, or what kind of tree we are, by the words we use.  

The Apostle Paul is also very specific about what kind of evil speaking qualifies as both bad and good fruit:

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29)

Any communication that does not “edify,” therefore, is not good fruit.  To edify means to “build up,” or to “improve spiritually, morally, or intellectually.”  In today’s culture, we are so concerned about what we are eating, checking for chemicals in our foods and seeking to eat only natural products.  However, Jesus said that it’s not what goes into our mouths that corrupts us, but instead what comes out.

After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand. It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man. Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” (Matthew 15:10-12)

Learn a Lesson From the Fig Tree

Another striking example of a tree and fruitfulness  in the Scriptures is the story of the fig tree:

Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered.

The leaves on the fig tree hold out a promise of fruitfulness, but this promise is not fulfilled.  Clearly, Jesus is disappointed at not being able to eat, and He sends a strong message of rebuke to those of us in the Church who hold out a promise of fruitfulness that is not fulfilled.  

As Jesus promised, today’s Church is facing persecution in many ways, from many different directions.  However, some of this persecution will be brought about only because Christians are not being Christlike or truly fruitful.  Instead, we are perceived as hypocritical, only preaching godliness but not demonstrating that same godliness in our lives.

We need to be different, not merely mimicking the behaviors of people in the world, but pure and holy in our speech, appearance, and behavior.  Even what we quote in our Facebook posts reflects what kind of people we are and what we have inside of us.  If we are no different from everyone else on Facebook, what right do we have to send a message of forgiveness and transformation to others?  

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  1. Biblical Mysteries Revealed » Is Jesus Truly Lord of Your Life? — December 14, 2015 @ 10:03 pm

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