A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Matthew 7:18 (ESV)
When I read this verse earlier today, I could not help but think about how some would argue against this analogy. They would be quick to point out the "good things" people do, whether they follow Christ or not.
I thought about how people can rally together at times for the common good. I thought about people who give not merely thousands but millions to charities. I thought about the rich and famous who travel the globe (often with a reporter or two or three or more in tow) bringing attention to the plight of those in need. Are they all followers of Christ? Probably not and yet there they are, bearing what seems to be good fruit. Was Jesus mistaken or is there something more than what meets the eye?
As I pondered these things, my mind went back to my childhood days. When I was two years old, my parents moved from an apartment to a little house on a small city lot. Despite the tiny yard, the property had an abundance of trees. In addition to the elm tree out front on the boulevard, there was a massive oak tree, a plum tree, four lilac bushes, a maple, a couple other bushes and another tree and two apple trees. We lived there for five years and to me, the tree-filled yard was a magical place.
The plum tree did not always yield fruit but the two apple trees always did. Granted, they were rather small apples but in addition to eating them (and using them for a variety of things such as ammunition and drawing pictures on the sidewalk), we would gather than in pails for my mother to turn into tasty treats.
I quickly learned this truth the hard way. Just because an apple looks good on the outside does not mean it is good on the inside and the inside is where it counts the most. Often times, when you look at an apple, there are tell-tale signs that all is not well. The evidence of infestation or damage is quite clear. You see the holes, you see the bruises, you see the areas on the flesh that have become mushy and are beginning to rot. It's a bad apple and you definitely do not want to put it with the good ones lest they become contaminated.
There are "bad apples" however, that are harder to detect. They have a nice color and shape. They feel firm. There are no holes or blemishes. At least, none that you can see. The fruit looks good, until you cut into it. Have you ever cut into an apple only to discover that it looked like the picture above? I have. YUCK! It looked good, it felt good, it may have even smelled good but that did not change the fact that it was a bad apple and you definitely do not want to eat it!
Do not be deceived. The type of tree we are is the type of fruit we will produce. If we are "diseased" with sin, our fruit will be bad, no matter how "good" it may appear. If we are spiritually healthy, we will produce good fruit which in turn will bear seeds ready to plant into fertile ground so that even more good fruit will be produced.
How is your fruit?