“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” – Galatians 5:22 (NLT)
The Christ is finishing up his Sermon on the Mount and he has covered a lot of ground: being salt and light, not worrying about tomorrow, the refrain to avoid judging others, and more. He finally gets to the crux of the whole dissertation: You’ll be able to tell what kind of person you are dealing with based on the “fruit” they produce in their life. Good trees will produce good fruit. Bad trees will produce bad fruit. It’s that simple.
There’s an old saying that goes: They (the world) will know we are Christians by our love. It echoes what John writes in his first letter: “…let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love (4:7-8, NLT). The act of showing love is only the first of several fruits the apostle Paul mentions in his letter to the Galatians. Prior to his list (noted above) he gives a very definitive list of what he considers bad fruit (see verses 19-21): selfishness, hostility, quarreling, outbursts of anger, dissension, division, sexual immorality, and so on.
The question each child of God needs to challenge themselves with daily is: What kind of fruit am I producing in my life? Because depending on the fruit I produce, I am either a good tree or a bad tree. And Jesus states very clearly what happens to bad trees; they are “chopped down and thrown into the fire”.
In our country, Christians seem to have a hard time discerning good trees from bad trees. I would look no further than the highest office in the land. The current occupant of the White House seems to exhibit nothing but bad fruit on a continuous, regular basis. And yet, supposedly – evangelicals support and promote this individual as being “chosen by God” to lead our nation. I am perplexed. Maybe this is true – but this should in no way imply he is a godly man (ie: a good tree).
You can argue with me, but I hope you wouldn’t argue with Jesus, Paul, and John. Not everyone who talks about heaven belongs in God’s Kingdom. Jesus is more concerned about our walk than our talk. He wants us to do right not just say the right words. What we do cannot be separated from what we believe, and what we believe will be shown by what we do. Just as James wrote in his letter: “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that faith save anyone?…faith by itself is not enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless…Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works” (2:14, 17, 26, NLT).
Jesus was very clear: Just as you can identify a tree by it’s fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. No ifs, ands, or buts. Let us stand up and speak out. Let us call out bad fruit when we see it in ourselves and each other. Let us remove bad trees from our fellowship. Bad trees have no business in God’s family and they sure shouldn’t receive our support. It makes the whole orchard bad.