Good Fruit

Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.                                                             Matthew 3:9-10 NLT

The Pharisees and Sadducees, leaders of the Jewish religion, upright men, had heard of the excitement surrounding the ministry of John the Baptist, and had come to watch, and probably, criticize. John’s words to them are significant. He did not say, “Repent, and get baptized.” Rather, he said, in effect, “Change your lives.” What was the fruit of their lives? Was it religious pride, judgmentalism, a critical spirit, impatience with those less rigorous than they, superciliousness, harshness, all the while justifying inwardly sinful thoughts and attitudes?

What might we say? Might we say, “I am a member of the Christian faith, so I am safe”? If so, would John say to us, “No, no, you must repent of your sins, accept Jesus as your Savior, and be baptized”? I don’t think so. I think he would say, “Change your lives.” Now that is not going to happen without accepting Christ. But accepting Christ is the beginning. That means the Spirit takes up residence in us. But then what? Are we daily cultivating the life of the Spirit so that our life springs up in “good fruit,” the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23)? If that is not the case, are we really any different from the Pharisees and Sadducees? And is our judgment any different from the one John spoke in regard to them? The question is not whether you and I were once planted in good soil with good roots. The question is whether we are now producing the fruit of a transformed life.

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