Matthew 12:33 (NIV)
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.”
Everyone knows a cherry tree will produce cherries and a walnut tree will produce walnuts. The tree has no choice but to produce fruit according to the nature it was given by its Creator.
When it comes to people, however, our fruit-bearing nature does become a matter of choice. Jesus told his disciples that if we are willing to be grafted into him, then our Creator will transform our nature from the inside out. Jesus describes us as branches no longer rooted in the world but suddenly rootless and wholly dependent upon him for our nourishment. Anchored in the deep heart of the Father, Jesus draws up into himself all the rich resources that we need to grow good fruit, and he makes them available to us—faithful love, knowledge of God, compassion, mercy, truth, peace, hope. Whatever you need, he says, just ask in my Name and my Father will supply it.
Jesus also tells us that when we start showing the good fruit that brings glory to God, then we show ourselves to be his true disciples. Like the branch maturing on the vine, we take on the characteristics of our parent plant and outwardly resemble Jesus more and more. The Father’s loving nature flows through our veins, and it shows up on our faces, in our conversations, and in our treatment of one another. We begin to care about the things that matter to God. We suffer for causes that further God’s work and forgive each other from hearts that know what it’s like to be freed from impossible debt. We reject evil ways because we are no longer rooted in the world, feeding on its values and temptations.
Proverbs declares that the fruit of the righteous becomes a tree of life. In other words, God uses our obedience to produce good works that can shelter and comfort a sin-weary world and draw them to the life-giving hope Christ offers.
FATHER, sometimes I am so tempted by unhealthy and selfish ways that I doubt I have been truly grafted into your holy Vine. Help me to trust that I belong to you even though I still live in the world and feel the pull of sin. Grow my resemblance to you so that others can see your goodness and love for them in the things I say and do. Thank you for choosing me and appointing me to bear fruit that brings glory to you.
Proverbs 11:30; Luke 3:9; John 15:5-8, 16
What fruit in your life makes you look like Jesus?