“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit….Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46 (NIV)
“What kind of tree is that?” the guest evangelist asked repeatedly of my dad on the occasion of his visit to Indonesia. His interest in botany came alive when he saw all of the exotic tropical fauna. With a wink in my direction, my dad replied: “Oh, that’s a ‘pohon hijau’ [green tree] and that one is a ‘bungga merah’ [red flower].” I smile every time I think of my dad’s response! Obviously, my dad had no idea what kind of trees they were, and he eventually came clean and confessed as much to our guest. But answering that question was a lot easier when the question was asked of fruit trees. The trees were easily identified by their fruit!
Jesus reminds us that a tree is known by its fruit—good trees yield good fruit. Look at the fruit and you’ll know the tree! “Fruit” is a Jewish metaphor for both character and conduct. So, Jesus is telling his followers: look at the conduct of a person’s life and you’ll know their character…look at their actions and you’ll know their attitudes. Jesus warns us that words alone are not enough. Claims are easy to make but meaningless unless they are backed up by proof. The proof of “claims” is in the “conduct.” Those of the “Jesus-tree” will bear “Jesus-fruit”; in fact, fruit-bearing is one of the primary purposes of our being made a part of the tree. Jesus says it this way: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last.” John 15:16 (NIV)
“Fruit-bearing” is such an integral part of life in Jesus Christ that it will be “judged” in “The Final Judgment” (Rev. 20:11-14). At that time, every person will stand before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ and give an account of their lives as recorded in the “Book of Life” and the “Book of Deeds” (2 Cor. 5:10). The “Book of Life” is the book of God’s gracious salvation offered freely to all who come to him by faith in Jesus Christ. All whose names are recorded in this book are destined for an eternity together with God in the new heaven and new earth. The “Book of Deeds” is the book of “fruit” and every name and every deed—good or bad—is recorded in this book. For those whose name is in the “Book of Life” the “Book of Deeds” will include a record of their righteous conduct, the basis of their heavenly rewards. Nothing can be done to merit inclusion in the “Book of Life”, but our rewards are earned by our deeds.
Those of the “Jesus-tree” will have evidence of “Jesus-fruit” recorded in this book. When we stand before the great white throne of our Lord Jesus Christ, he will look through the “Book of Deeds.” And when he sees…for example…the fruit of our righteous conduct done with pure motives (Matt. 6:1) on behalf of the least of these (Matt. 25: ) out of love for the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:11), we will hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” (Luke 19:17)
What “Jesus-fruit” gives evidence that you belong to the “Jesus-tree”? What do your actions reveal about your attitude? Your conduct say about your character? The solution is to “abide in him” the one who is the “tree” and you will bear his “fruit.” Recommit to abiding in him. Rearrange the priorities of your life in order to love him. Restructure your time to dedicate yourself to serving him more fully at home, in your job, in our church, and in God’s world.
I can’t speak for you, but I can speak for myself: I want my wife, my daughter, my friends, and my church to be able to look at me and say, “When I look at Scott, I see evidence that he’s a man that follows Jesus.” Even more so, I look forward to the day where hopefully I will hear: “Well done, Scott, my good and faithful servant.”
On the way…