Luke 6:43,44 For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit.
I have known many Christians who seem to live profoundly paradoxical lives. On the one hand, they have done great things for God but on the other, they seem to retain tremendous defects of the flesh. They may be wonderful leaders or even pastors, but they are still prideful, difficult or lack self-control.
I have wrestled with how to understand such people. How can someone who does so much good retain such obvious defects? Is this person an imposter? Did not Jesus say that a tree is either good or bad, bearing either good fruit or bad?
It is my tendency for extremes that leads me to think Jesus was saying that a person is either all good or all bad. It is easier if I can divide the world into good and bad people. The problem however, is that I do not know anyone who does all good or all bad. The reality is, none of us produce only one type of fruit. We all produce a mix.
If you only knew me from my writing, you may imagine that I have life all figured out. Then, if you met me, you would be disappointed to find that I am still prideful, that I eat too much and that I can be short tempered when I do not get my way.
The truth is, the world is not divided into good and bad people. That line runs through each of us.
Jesus was insisting that what we do comes from inside of us. If we pursue the works of the flesh, we are going to grow a predictable fruit. If we pursue God, we are going to produce a completely different result. When we participate in destructive behavior, it is not some random occurrence. It happened for a reason. It came from inside of us.
I produce destructive works of the flesh when I sow those seeds. Likewise, I only produce the fruits of the spirit life when I grow the spirit in me. I cannot grow a thorn bush and then expect to pick grapes. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush (6:44).
It is true of course, that my life may be known for one type of fruit. When my name was in the paper for my addiction, it was a bitter realization that this became my identity to others. I had sown the seeds of the flesh to massive destruction and people came to know me by that fruit. Did that mean I had done no good in my life? No, of course not.
When I find that others are a great paradox, I need to look no further than my own life for understanding. Though I pursue God and produce good fruit, I still retain defects that when indulged in, produce destructive fruits. This perspective gives me grace and understanding for the failures of others and reminds me that I am still capable of stumbling.
If I want to grow good fruit, I need to daily sow the seeds God in me.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.