Friday, March 23, 2012

A Tree and Its Fruit (Luke 6:43-49)

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers.  A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Be careful what you put into your head because you can never get it out again.  If you fill your heart and mind with good things, these will be what come out when you are squeezed.  If, however, you fill your heart and mind with bad things, unfortunately, these will be what come out when you are squeezed.

There are many who think they are not influenced by the things that they see and do, but they are sorely mistaken.  Many many years ago, I used to enjoy playing a game called Grand Theft Auto 3.  I would say go Google this game to see what the point of it is, but I would rather you didn't.  Suffice it to say this is a game no person should be playing, least of all children.  It is violent in nature and encourages bad (illegal) behavior.  You may think it is limited to the world of the game, but the in-game attitude translates to real life.  In my case, after playing that game, I would often feel very aggressive.  This translated to my driving.  I found myself being more aggressive and taking more risks than were necessary.  Scientists are just now discovering that violent video games foster violent behavior in adolescents and young adults.  It has progressed to a point where lobbyists are trying to get Congress to pass a law requiring a warning label on all video games, even if they are not violent games!

It only took 2000 years for science to prove what Jesus told us long ago.  Whatever you put in your heart is what will come out.  The truth here is to fill yourself with good.  Fill yourself with Christ so that when you are squeezed, people are covered with the goodness of Jesus.

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?  As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.  They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.  But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

I love the parables that Jesus' uses.  He speaks in terms of things that we can understand easily.  It makes sense that a house built on a foundation is going to be stronger and sturdier than one that is not.  Similarly, a person who hears Jesus' words AND puts them into practice is truly following Christ.  What good is it for a person to hear Jesus' words and do nothing about it?

You know people like that!  Yes you do!  Has a person ever come to you for advice?  If you give them advice, your expectation is that they take it and use it, right?  Of course!  So, what happens when they completely ignore your advice?  I'll tell you what, if I give someone advice and they choose to ignore it, they better not come complaining to me afterwards!

Jesus is giving us some tough stuff to follow, but he tells us it is worth it.  More than that, we are not alone in this.  The Holy Spirit will give us the strength and wisdom that we need to be obedient to Jesus' teachings.  It has to be through Christ that we follow Him.  Doing the things he has taught us would be impossible without his help.

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