Friday 15th March – Luke 6:43-45 ‘Bearing good fruit’

Luke 6:43-45

Surprisingly, 2022 was a bumper year for apples – at least it was a bumper year for the apple trees in our garden.  To be honest I know very little about these things – I’m generally better at destroying than growing things in our garden – but I had expected the very hot, dry summer to have reduced our yields; however, the reverse was true.  After a lean year in 2021, even the tree at the back (my favourite, but very erratic in its output) was laden with fruit. 

The point of fruit trees, of course, is that they bear fruit. That’s what they do.  But it’s not just any old fruit that matters: it’s good fruit we’re looking for: fruit that we can eat and enjoy.  I usually lose at least a third of my apples to insects and birds (which I don’t mind at all) and also a smaller proportion to apples that rot on the tree and then ‘infect’ the apples next to them.  If you’ve left a rotten apple in a bag of other apples for a couple of weeks, you’ll know how quickly the rot spreads!

We’re lucky that most of our apple trees are good trees: healthy, productive, reliable.  They bear good fruit.  One, however, produces almost nothing, and what it does produce is usually small, shrivelled and sour.  Interestingly, by outward appearance it doesn’t look much different to the others – but what it produces is very different.

Over the last few days, we’ve soaked up some of the most profound and powerful teaching ever spoken in our world, by Jesus the great teacher.  The core of it is, however, very simple: and it’s Jesus’ point today.  If you want to know what’s in a person’s heart, observe how they live.  You can tell what someone really believes by how they behave.  You recognise them by their fruit.

How can you tell if someone is ‘good’?  By what they say and do.  If their life is characterised by kind works and compassionate speech, then the good fruit tells you it’s a good tree.  On the other hand, you can’t claim to be good and then treat others harshly, gossip, slander etc.  Bad fruit betrays a bad tree.

And perhaps, outwardly, just like my failing tree, such people might not look all that different: but then you see how they speak (v45) or how they relate to other people, and you know what is in their heart.  Out of the overflow of the heart, Jesus observes, the mouth speaks.

It’s so simple, and yet so profound – as the greatest wisdom usually is.  And if you’re anything like me, your immediate response may well be: ‘Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner!’  It shines such a light on my heart – and my speech, my actions – that all I can ask for is help!  I long to be someone who produces good fruit; perhaps you do, too.  If so, may we all pray for Jesus’ love to fill our hearts, that what flows out of our heart this day, this week, this season is grace, peace and kindness.