“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.