You Can’t Make Bad Fruit Good

You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good,  and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?  Do not even pagans do that?                             Matthew 5:43-47

 

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.                                                                               Matthew 12:33

 

You can’t produce, let alone share, what does not grow in your heart. 

Jesus was talking about good trees and bad trees.  His comparison to these trees is a direct call to check the state of your heart!  He said bluntly: How can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  And there is hardly a better time than during the turmoil of these two pandemics: race relations and virus for Jesus to ask these questions.  Many of us are quick to say what we think Jesus would say about these tragedies.  And, you know what’s baffling?  Those who oppose each other – dare I say “hate” – each claim they know what Jesus would say.  And all the while Jesus says in Matthew 5 from the Sermon on the Mount – Love and Pray (actually, I would read all of Matthew 5 and 6). How long can we go on saying things like: “Well, I can be rude with my ideas because, ‘THEY’ are even more rude!”  Really? 

As Christians, is this all we have learned?  When someone hears you talk (or would hear you talk) about the political or racial matters before us (I know, now I’m meddling!), would they call you a good tree or a bad tree?  Would they say you have learned to love your enemy by the words you use and with the tone in which you use them?  Where are your ideas rooted? What’s coming out of your mouth!  Do those words resemble Jesus’ words in the least bit?

When Jesus refers to the heart of the tree, He was talking about the very center of the tree or the very core of it. What He is asking is what’s at the very core of you…deep inside?  He’s talking about what’s in our hearts!  He knows when our thoughts are full of grace — or not.  Are you rooted in Jesus’ love and the power He gives you to forgive?  Or are you taking sides, being sure that everyone on Face Book, Instagram, in your cell phone contacts knows exactly where you stand and where they are wrong?

You know that there is a battle amiss for your heart!  Jesus wants it but there are other forces that are at work who want your heart too.  A Cherokee grandfather told his grandson? A fight is going on inside me.” It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.  The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”  The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

What do you feed your heart?  If your heart is not grounded in good, it will never speak good – Ever!  Every conversation we have with another human being is an opportunity to curse or to bless – to build up or bring down.   Every business transaction is an opportunity to do justice and what is right or to take advantage of someone.  Good tree or bad tree?  Will grace come bubblin’ up in you in this tumultuous time?  The more of Jesus you put into your heart, the more His thoughts will come out of your mouth.

I thank God for the privilege to serve as your pastor here at Cason! 

Joy, joy, Pastor Alexis

 

FOUR WAYS TO NOURISH YOUR HEART

  1. Sink Your Roots in Jesus. Begin to ask questions instead of offering your “expert” opinions. Are your ideas really right and others peoples’ wrong. Instead, when an opinion stirs in you, try asking this question:  I wonder why?  It may come out like this: I wonder why I think this way, politically.  I wonder why those African Americans are protesting, putting their life on the line . I wonder why I am so agitated by what that person just said.  I think you get the point.  As one rooted in Jesus will you, “Wonder Why?”

 

  1. Nourish Your Roots in a Deeper Relationship with God! John Wesley called these Means of Grace!  He used two categories:

Works of Piety – What you do for yourself

  1. Read, meditate on and study the Scriptures
  2. Pray and Fast
  3. Attend worship regularly and receive the Sacraments (Holy Communion)
  4. Share your faith
  5. Be accountable for your actions

Works of Mercy – What you do for others

  1. Do good works
  2. Visit the sick and those in prison
  3. Feed the hungry
  4. Give generously
  5. Seek justice – ending oppression and discrimination!
  6. Address the needs of the poor
  1. Watch the Company You Keep! Seriously!  How many “Good” Christ-like Trees do you hang around that are producing good fruit?  How many withering Bad Trees do you hang around producing sour or no fruit?
  1. Watch What You Feed Your Heart. Garbage in- Garbage out … Good in – Good out!

 

REMEMBER: You can’t produce, let alone share, what does not grow in your heart.


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