Trees and their Fruits

Steven Bouma-Prediger

Read: Matthew 7:15-20

You will recognize them by their fruits. (v. 16)

Shortly after I and my family moved into our house in Holland, Michigan, I hired an arborist to help me correctly identify the trees surrounding our new home. There were 40 trees on our little lot in the core city of Holland: Serbian spruce and Norway maple, eastern hemlock and northern catalpa, white pine and red cedar. I dutifully took notes as the tree expert walked and talked. On the east side of the house he identified a small fruit tree: it was a plum tree, he said with the confidence of an expert.

Come spring I noticed that our plum tree was sprouting crab apples. The tree man got this one wrong, but, to be fair, many fruit trees look alike and his visit took place in late October, when the leaves were gone, so it was even harder to identify this tree with any certainty.

“You will recognize them by their fruits,” said Jesus to his followers. You don’t get grapes from thorns or figs from thistle. (Nor crab apples from plum trees.) Good trees, furthermore, produce good fruit, and bad trees bear bad fruit. Luke’s version of this story (6:43-45) is even more explicit: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good.” Let’s face it: talk is cheap, and we are known by our fruit. So let us bear the fruit of a heart enlarged and directed by the goodness of our loving Lord—above all, the fruit of love. —Steven Bouma-Prediger

Prayer: Lord, empower us by your grace to bear much good fruit.