One thing that I notice about Jesus is that while he will repeat illustrations, he’ll apply it to different situations. In Matthew, we see him apply the idea of a good tree bearing good fruit and a bad tree bearing bad fruit to false prophets. And his point is to test the fruit (both the lives and the teaching) of those you listen to.
But in Luke, he uses this illustration to challenge us to test our own hearts. The context of it in Luke is the judging of others, condemning those around us, and forgiveness.
And having talked about that, he then says,
No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (43-45)
What is Jesus saying here? He’s asking us, what kind of trees are we? What is in our hearts? Is it judgmentalism? Is it condemnation? Or is it forgiveness and grace?
How can we tell what is in our hearts? By the fruit of our words. Because Jesus tells us that from the overflow of our hearts, our mouths speak.
If our hearts are full of condemnation and judgmentalism, that is what will come pouring out of our mouths. But if our hearts are full of God’s forgiveness and grace, that’s what will come pouring out of our mouths.
A key point to note here is that Jesus associates a judgmental and condemning heart to a bad tree. But he associates a gracious and forgiving heart to a good tree.
So the question we need to ask ourselves is, “What is coming out of our mouths?”
Are we constantly criticizing and judging other people? Or are our words full of grace? Because the fruit of our words show just what kind of trees we are.
What kind of tree are you?