Saturday, November 19, 2022

Trees and Their Fruit - Luke 6:43-45 - November 20, 2022

 Luke 6:43-45 Trees and Their Fruit

Good morning! Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke chapter 6, today we are going to look at verses 43-45, a section entitled, “A Tree and Its Fruit.” That’s on page 863 in the pew Bibles.

This is an extremely difficult passage. It’s short, seems relatively simple, but it is a hard one. It’s hard for several reasons not the least of which, as a woodworker, is the statement from Jesus, “Each tree is known by its own fruit.” What about the bark and the leaves and the grain, that’s how I know what kind of tree I’m dealing with!

Though Jesus was a carpenter, he knew His audience and they clearly weren’t carpenters so He just stuck with knowing trees by their fruits. Whatever.

Let’s look at the text and get to work.

43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Let’s pray.

It’s not by accident that this parable comes right on the heels of the last one. To refresh your memory, just a few verses back Jesus said, “41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”

I’m not going to repreach last week’s sermon but I just want to remind us all that the picture of the plank in our own eyes and trying to help others with the speck in theirs is an invitation to introspection.

Introspection simply means to take a look at ourselves, to examine our own lives and make sure that we deal with our own sins and defects before we go pointing out anybody else’s.

And so this picture of knowing a tree by its fruit starts with a bit of self examination.

It starts simply with the question, “what kind of fruit am I producing?”

First of all, what is fruit? Jesus gives us that answer in verse 45. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Jesus used the term, “good,” in the moral sense much like we do all the time when we say that somebody is a good person, He isn’t declaring anybody righteous based on what they do or say, he’s simply saying that decent people do and say decent things, and lousy people do and say lousy things.

So fruit in this context is the things that we do and say, our fruit is our effect on others.

Paul further explained this idea in Galatians 5:22-23

22 …the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

So if this is an invitation to introspection, we have to ask ourselves, “What kind of fruit am I producing? Does it look like the fruit of the Spirit? 

Do I speak and act in love with joy? Do I exhibit peace and patience? Am I kind and good to others? Am I faithful to the Lord, to my spouse, can I be counted on to keep my word and do what I say that I’ll do? Do I control myself when faced with temptation or difficult circumstances?

Good trees produce good fruit. 

In that same passage in Galatians Paul listed off some bad fruit as well to give us a little better definition and make it easier to discern a bad tree.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

So the first step is to examine the kind of fruit that we produce, which list does it look like, the first one, the second one, or somewhere in between?

This is how we deal with the planks in our own eyes, we have to examine ourselves, our own fruit, and ask the Lord to deal with it so that we can move from being a bad tree to being a good tree.

But in the context of the rest of Luke 6 we know that Jesus is not just talking about just individual people but who they would look to as teachers as well. 

“Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.

If our teachers are blind they certainly cannot lead us in the right way, we’re both going in the hole. A disciple is not above his teacher but when he is fully trained he will be like his teacher and if his teacher is blind and produces bad fruit guess what that means…

We must carefully examine the fruit of our teacher’s lives as well is it good or is it bad? Don’t expect to find good fruit growing on a bad tree, there are no figs nor grapes in the brambles and briars.

This sounds silly but it happens so often. People admit their need for God and go looking for Him where He will not be found. 

We want to be closer to Jesus so we start transcendental meditation or reading garbage books by garbage authors and we end up believing garbage and it’s reflected in the garbage fruit that we produce.

When we consider the fruit of our teachers in order to discern whether or not they are a good tree we have to examine the fruit that is their character, the fruit that is the content of their teaching, and the fruit that is the impact that teaching has on those who hear it.

How many of us have diligently followed a man that was a great speaker, with great charisma, and drew great crowds but cheated on his wife, or embezzled from the ministry, or abused those that worked for them? 

Or maybe the content of their message, as easy to listen to as it was didn’t point people to Jesus and their need for repentance, their need for the cross. 

They may have impacted thousands but the only real impact they had was making people feel good about themselves all the while they were still bound for Hell.

We have to measure the fruit of our teachers. We have to learn to discern the good from the bad.

And I tend to make a big deal about those we look to as teachers in the formal sense, teachers that we listen to or watch online that know that they are teaching, that’s what they are trying to do, but we must also measure the fruit of those that we look to as teachers in an informal sense, those that we look to for advice, those that influence us and how we live. Are we still looking for good fruit from bad trees?

This is much more difficult. 

If you don’t want to listen to that tv preacher anymore you can just turn it off but freeing ourselves from the negative influence of friends and family is much more difficult, it’s much harder... Just because it’s hard doesn’t make it bad.

Look for good fruit and you will find a good tree. 

So we know what good fruit looks like, but what makes a good tree?

45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Jesus doesn’t switch pictures here, it’s the same thing. The good tree out of the good treasure of his heart produces good fruit, likewise an evil tree out of his evil treasure produces evil fruit, for out of the abundance of his heart his fruit is produced.

What makes a good tree good, what makes a person good, what makes a teacher good, what makes fruit good? The simple answer is the best answer, it’s Jesus!

We were all bad trees producing bad fruit. On our own we are nothing but brambles and briars. But as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:17, …if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

It is God who makes trees good and it is God that enables and empowers those trees to bear good fruit. The fruit of the Spirit cannot truly be produced without the Spirit Himself living inside of the believer and being the good treasure of his heart. He is the only source for good fruit through us who trust in Jesus!

So what kind of fruit are you producing? Where are you looking for fruit and what kind of fruit are you taking in?

These are important questions to consider as we examine ourselves to see whether or not we are in Christ Jesus and whether or not He is us.

And as we seek to bear good fruit we have to do the things that help trees produce, we have to dig deep in the good soil of His Word. 

In the words of the prophet Jeremiah 17:7-8,

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”