Thursday, January 18, 2018

January 18: Matthew 12:33-37: How’s My Fruit?

             A tree is known by its fruit (Matt 12:33). Jesus isn’t talking about trees that grown in the ground, he is talking about you and me though the Pharisees were his direct target at the time. The passage brings up the idea that there are ways of judging ourselves and others. We all should recognize that we need to judge ourselves. Jesus tells us that our words will justify us or condemn us (Matt 12:37).
            There are also times when it is necessary to judge others. Our judgment isn’t like the Lord’s as we can’t condemn anyone or justify anyone. Our judgment is done to see if a person is trustworthy or someone with whom we must be cautious when we deal with them. A man and a woman dating each other must judge each other before they become engaged or married. It would be foolish for a person to marry a deadbeat, abusive, drug-dealing, addict because, “It’s wrong to judge others.”
            Whether a person speaks evil things or good things, Jesus tells us that these come from a person’s heart (Matt 12:34-35). Since everyone is born with a sinful heart (Rom 3:23) it is necessary to get a new heart and a new spirit from the Lord (Ezek 36:26). Otherwise, the things that come out of it will most often be vile. I was in the Navy and can affirm that the adage about the obscene way sailors talk is true. However, I’ve found the same foulmouthed language in executive offices as well as on factory floors. It always reveals the true character of a person. I may have to be in submission to them if they are a boss or an authority (Rom 13:1), but that doesn’t mean I have to trust them.
            They will have to give an account for what they say and how they say it even if it is careless (Matt 12:36). From that standpoint, I don’t have to judge them, but I do have to consider the fruit of my own “tree.” The beginning of producing good fruit is confessing Jesus is Lord and believing in my heart that God raised him from the dead (Rom 10:9). Then I can know that my heart is right and I am justified (Rom 10:10). If my mouth continues to show that my heart is not yet completely pure, then I need to keep working on the sin that is in my heart causing the bad fruit to be on the tree.

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