The Old Fruit Tree Parable Trick…

You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16-20)

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” (James 3:17)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23)

What does ‘fruit’, as a metaphor, mean in all of these passages?

I was looking at a tree today – the leaves had all fallen off it and it looked…well…dead. For some reason the parable Jesus spoke about a tree and it’s fruits came to my mind and reminded me of a few things about ‘trees’. Trees continually produce fruit – over and over and over again – they produce the same fruit – year in and year out. Trees do not produce a different kind of fruit – it’s usually one kind each season. The tree lives to produce that fruit – it’s it sole action in life.

Well, in the parable a good person (or tree) is determined by their actions (or fruit) – vice versa for a bad person. This analogy is then used by Paul and James concerning the actions of Christians and what those outcomes should be (ie: peace). How is it a Christian can claim they have no responsibility for their own commitment to God (what they want to call salvation) when it seems abundantly clear within these passages on the metaphor of trees and fruit – that a tree is defined by the fruit it brings forward (according to the direct wording of that parable from Matthew). Prior I used James’ letter to prove this point – but Matthew makes this exact same point with his metaphor of tree’s and fruit.

This is not some ‘far-out’ idea that Christians are responsible for their behavior and that their salvation is as guaranteed as a tree producing the same ‘good’ fruit year in and year out. It seems to me in this parable (and the resultant scriptures afterwards) that without the produce the tree is useless. James said faith without works is dead. I saw a tree today that was dead…it produced no fruit.

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18 thoughts on “The Old Fruit Tree Parable Trick…

  1. Just two quick thoughts:

    Since we do not know the heart, and the true motivation…we cannot know (for ourselves) which is truly “good”…or not.

    And, since unbelievers are quite capable of doing everything a Christian is capable of doing (feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, visiting the sick, visiting the prisoners, etc.)…we also then cannot accurately judge fruits of the Spirit.

  2. we also then cannot accurately judge fruits of the Spirit.(Steve)

    Nor can you judge whether they will be “saved” or not. So I guess the best thing to do, is just be nice and help people and let your God take care of the rest.

  3. That is job #1.(Steve)

    Nope youre dead wrong. If you read your scripture, something comes before that. And this is why most Christians dont get a passing grade. They actually believe that converting people is more important, when it is so obvious that Christ’s emphasis was on loving your neighbour.

  4. The first is from the Shema: Dt 6:4 “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”

    Lv 19:18 “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

    Hmmm…..Deuteronomy and Leviticus and Matthew. Which came first, could you help me out?

  5. “(feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, visiting the sick, visiting the prisoners, etc.)…we also then cannot accurately judge fruits of the Spirit.”

    how about those who do these things are being Christ to others, whether they acknowledge it or not? not all who who say “Lord Lord” will be recognized, right? and TfT is right to highlight the two greatest commandments that Jesus gave to us straight out of his Jewish tradition.

    can we acurrately judge? oldadam is absolutely right that we can’t! nor are we called to. we are called to serve and love.

  6. “Since we do not know the heart, and the true motivation…we cannot know (for ourselves) which is truly “good”…or not…And, since unbelievers are quite capable of doing everything a Christian is capable of doing (feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, visiting the sick, visiting the prisoners, etc.)…we also then cannot accurately judge fruits of the Spirit.” (Steve)

    (a) We cannot know one’s heart

    (b) A non-Christian can perform the same ‘fruits’ of the Spirit

    If A is true and B is true then isn’t the most simple answer the best one? The fruits of the spirit can only come from one place (the spirit) and a non-Christian, if they seek such ideals, is following the very spirit of God. Since we cannot know their hearts but can see their actions and outcomes – we can make this fair assessment in my opinion.

    I think the point of this exercise is to show that a person is to be judged by their actions – which in a sense – reveal what the intentions of their heart is. If we go by one’s words we will be fooled – we can basically say anything about anything and sound ‘good’. But actions – well they are what a person truly believes and they will act according to their thoughts. This is the best evaluation we have to determine what a person thinks/believes about life.

    In Jesus’ example, which is about spiritual people already (prophets), he tells us plainly to look at one’s actions – this will let us know what one really believes. Jesus was very concerned with one’s actions in meeting with their confessions about this kingdom. A good tree is known by it’s fruit, same for an evil tree. They are not known by their bark (how they look) or their internal workings (their hearts). It’s very simple – they are known but what they are bringing forth to humanity.

    I think what is important but being forgotten in some Christian circles is what we do is who we are. Our beliefs in these confessional statements about our churches says nothing about who we are…just what we think of God and his words. God Himself shows little concern for such things within His very own words. God’s concern seems to be more on how we human beings treat each another. So therefore, the godly thing for a Christian to do is be concerned for their fellow human being and what their life brings forward.

    • “God’s concern seems
      to be more on how we human beings treat each another. So therefore, the godly thing
      for a Christian to do is be concerned for their fellow human being and what their
      life brings forward.”

      Thank you so much for that.

      It is so much easier to profess beliefs we do not have, using all the right words, than it is to perform good actions. Because a non-Christian can perform good actions, is that a valid excuse for the Christian to do nothing, safe in the knowledge of having professed the right beliefs?

      I have no interest in being theologically correct, but “Faith without works is dead” seems a pretty good proposition to me.

  7. I think Gods’ concern is the following
    Mark 12:30-31 (New International Version)

    30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'[a] 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'[b]There is no commandment greater than these.”

    Footnotes:

    1. Mark 12:30 Deut. 6:4,5
    2. Mark 12:31 Lev. 19:18

    Revelations ch 13 The Lord has made us light to be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.

    We are to judge people by their fruits this is stated in the Bible. I have seen nonbelievers do great things, but it is a concern for me when Christians A)do nothing B) don’t led people to salvation

    I agree with Reg in that being legalistic with words without actions does not show what it means to be a Christians. Christians are supposed to come out of the world and be a peculiar people.

  8. “Revelations ch 13 The Lord has made us light to be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Xavier)

    What does being salvation to the whole earth mean to you exactly?

    I notice you quote the two commandments of eminence to Jesus – which he saw as the great two and summed up the rest. Isn’t living according to ideals like that being ‘salvation to the ends of the earth’?

  9. “What does being salvation to the whole earth mean to you exactly? I notice you quote the two commandments of eminence to Jesus – which he saw as the great two and summed up the rest. Isn’t living according to ideals like that being ’salvation to the ends of the earth’?” (societyvs)

    Since your blog speaks specifically of being a christian the answer to what salvation for the individual should have already been spoken to you, so what do you know of the word salvation or what it means to be saved? I am asking this so I have an understanding of what angle you are coming from so that I may answer your question completely. I feel there is more than one angle you are taking based on the current blog

  10. “None of us loves God and our neighbors as ourselves” (Steve)

    Nobody is perfect Steve – the funny thing about it is – it is actually our short-comings that makes it evident we need to be empathetic to others. It is by virtue of our very weaknesses that we learn to see the need for offering grace/mercy to others.

  11. “so what do you know of the word salvation or what it means to be saved?” (Xavier)

    Salvation is a loaded concept – it requires being saved from something. One can look at Exodus and see the cries for help/salvation as being in need of rescue from the plight of slavery…and not having the comfort of a society of their own. They cried for salvation from those conditions. The Babylonian exile was similar in effect – again a salvation from the conditions they were in. I also have to say the Roman occupation would of functioned the same way.

    So what is salvation? Salvation is about the ability to practice and live the standards of the faith in God we have in a free and civil manner…to not be bound by chains, slavery, or oppression in this endeavor.

  12. “The point is that we need to be perfect to enter into Heaven. That we cannot attain that is why we need Jesus” (Steve)

    This is an interesting perspective to take from the writings of the disciples or Paul – can you show me where it exactly says this? You make this claim – I will ask you to prove it.

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