Monday 22 August 2016

Bible Book:

“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit … Thus you will know them by their fruits.” (v. 18, 20)

Matthew 7:15-20 Monday 22 August 2016

Psalm: Psalm 139


This is one of a number of passages in Matthew's Gospel wherethe image of a tree and its fruit is used to illustrate the life offaith. Elsewhere John the Baptist, castigating the Sadducees andPharisees, spoke of the need to cut down any tree which is notfruitful (Matthew 3:10). In today's passage, Jesus madethe clear link between the state of the tree, poor or healthy, andthe nature of its fruit, bad or good. For his hearers, mainly fromGalilee and of an agricultural background, this would have madecomplete sense. They had to live with the need to makehorticultural decisions! Later on, and with an audience whichincluded hostile Pharisees, Jesus used exactly the same image (Matthew 12:33). Later again, and outside thecity of Jerusalem in the days immediately before his death, Jesuscursed a fig tree for not having fruit that he might eat (Matthew 21:18-19).

Trees and fruit were significant in the economy of the societyin which Jesus lived; thus they provided a valuable visual aid. Thequality of fruit borne by a tree depends on the health andwell-being of the tree itself, what nurtures it and the situationof its culture. There are clear parallels with the humancondition.

These verses come from the final section of teachings of Jesusknown as the Sermon on the Mount. He had been challenging hislisteners to an alternative lifestyle to that which they wereliving. However, he made it very clear that his role was not to doaway with the teachings of the Jewish law, but rather to make itwhat it was intended to be - a way of life in harmony with God andneighbour. Here Jesus was saying that what matters is spiritualhealth and integrity: these will produce 'good fruit'. This is whatdistinguishes the true from the false, the genuine from the sham.This is foundational to a life of Christian faith; indeed, to anylife of integrity.

To Ponder

  • Has there ever been a time when you know that you have failedto live up to what you know to be right, when the fruit has beenpoor, so to speak?
  • What helps you to maintain a healthy spiritual life and so bearwhat might be called 'good fruit'?
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