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Good Fruit, Bad Fruit

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  • Good Fruit, Bad Fruit

    15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:15-20)1

    33 "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (12:33-37)

    Sometimes I believe we may forget that there are genuinely evil people in this world whose hearts are wicked to the core. They may not be mass murderers or rapists, but they are our co-workers, our employers, our family members. It is true that we are not to be "fruit inspectors" in the sense that we are not to assume the role of Judge over others and who specifically will be saved and lost. Yet it is also true that we are to exercise discernment concerning ourselves and the persons we deal with.

    As Jesus indicates, one's speech is key. It will eventually reveal a great deal about a person, who he or she is. Perhaps you have dealt with persons whose conversation primarily consists of gossip, venom, self-aggrandizement (braggadocio), slander, accusations, and/or some form of abuse. When you really listen to the things people say (and sometimes the things you yourself say), even in everyday conversation, it can be quite appalling. What are you about? What am I about? It is bound to slip out of our lips at some point, even if you are prone to speaking infrequently. "The tongue" is a window of sorts into the heart of the person speaking (Matthew 15:18; James 3:1-12). When I do speak, I have noticed I can be too quick to pronounce a condemnatory judgement or I lack the grace I would wish others to have on me. Sometimes we run the risk of becoming that thing we hate seeing or hearing in others. Returning evil for evil seems to be our natural impulse.

    I suppose the reason I am typing all this is because I have dealt with some incredibly abusive individuals in my life. They are/were not entirely devoid of good traits, of course, but when push came/comes to shove, they are/were rotten people. You may not be entirely sure who or what a person is made of until you have spent some time together behind closed doors together, away from the crowds where the public persona disappears. Of all places, this seems to be where one's true colors eventually show: the good, the bad and the ugly. Positively, the behavior I have witnessed in others which disgusts me most may serve as a reminder of what I do not want to be or become. Be careful that you do not become that thing which you hate.

    It can be difficult to sincerely pray for or be desirous of any good to come upon our enemies or those who mistreat, abuse or use us, but the greatest prayer we can ultimately pray is for the salvation of those outside of Christ. Without a doubt, loving the unlovable can be very hard. We tend to think merely of the here and now, but those who die outside of Christ will be without hope in the age to come. It is a grave matter. Perhaps we would actually wish for their damnation. We don't want anything to do with some persons. It would seem better if they had never existed.

    Maybe I am alone in this, but my first inclination is toward justice. Yet I recognize if God dealt with me according to strict justice, I am done for. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to extend the grace of God towards others in prayer and real life. After all, they don't deserve it. Do we have a genuine will for the ultimate good of our enemies? If we're honest with ourselves, the answer may be a resounding "no". Enemy-love in theory may sound romantic, but in practice it is perhaps the most difficult thing for one to do. It is certainly not something we can do in our own strength. We must remember that love for our enemies is only made possible by Christ's prior love for us as sinners alienated from God.

    6 For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. 8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! 9 Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from [the] wrath. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! (Romans 5:6-10 HCSB)

    Apart from Christ and the work of God through the Holy Spirit in my life, I, James,2 really am rotten in myself. Overall, without Christ I am self-absorbed, unkind, unforgiving and hateful of those who wrong me. If my thoughts don't constantly return to Christ, I will have grace on no one.


    Notes

    1 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV). Scripture reference marked HCSB taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

    2 Real name.
    Last edited by The Remonstrant; 04-29-2014, 06:32 AM.
    For Neo-Remonstration (Arminian/Remonstrant ruminations): <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>

  • #2
    I find within myself and others a desire for justice for their misdeeds, but clemency for my own. But Jesus standard is that we should wish for others the same mercy we wish for ourselves. The way we speak does give insight into how well we have absorbed that mindset.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by RBerman View Post
      I find within myself and others a desire for justice for their misdeeds, but clemency for my own. But Jesus['] standard is that we should wish for others the same mercy we wish for ourselves. The way we speak does give insight into how well we have absorbed that mindset.
      For Neo-Remonstration (Arminian/Remonstrant ruminations): <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>

      Comment


      • #4
        Just as it's important to understand that salvation is towards empowerment, the switching on, of the Eternal living attribute of the member of God's People, being a blessing to the world ability, not towards reaching heaven, so also fruit is representative of the results of that empowerment, not seen in good works, but in making alive of dead people:

        John 7:38Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them."

        Ezekiel 37:4Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.’ 5“Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. 6‘I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the LORD.’”

        7So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. 9Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.”’” 10So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by The Remonstrant View Post
          It can be difficult to sincerely pray for or be desirous of any good to come upon our enemies or those who mistreat, abuse or use us, but the greatest prayer we can ultimately pray is for the salvation of those outside of Christ. Without a doubt, loving the unlovable can be very hard. We tend to think merely of the here and now, but those who die outside of Christ will be without hope in the age to come. It is a grave matter. Perhaps we would actually wish for their damnation. We don't want anything to do with some persons. It would seem better if they had never existed.
          The Christian thing to do is not just 'desire' good for them - but to actually do good to those who have wronged you.

          With the Holy Spirit, comes the empowering to begin to act like our Father. God doesn't merely do good to those who do good to Him, but He is good to both the just and the unjust. Likewise, we become like Him when we do good to those who do evil towards us -- we give without expectation of a return -- we go from the transaction mentality of the world (I give to benefit myself) to life with a generous mentality (I give to benefit others)-- we go from a life under law to a life abounding in grace.

          When Christ set you free from sin -- it wasn't just from your own sin and condemnation (which of course it was) -- it was also from the hold that other people's sin has on you. In other words, other people's sin has no rule over your life to keep you from doing good and following after Christ.


          Luke 16

          32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.


          Matthew 5

          44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
          Last edited by phat8594; 04-29-2014, 08:07 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by RBerman View Post
            I find within myself and others a desire for justice for their misdeeds, but clemency for my own. But Jesus standard is that we should wish for others the same mercy we wish for ourselves. The way we speak does give insight into how well we have absorbed that mindset.
            In fact we should go beyond just 'wishing' for others the same mercy we wish for ourselves, and we should actually give it:


            Mathew 6

            14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.



            Matthew 7

            1 Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
            Last edited by phat8594; 04-29-2014, 08:09 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              There is a difference when one tries to imitate Christ to a person born again.

              A person who tries to imitate Christ will surely fail because he tries to make him/herself righteous in his/her own works.

              But a person born of God is changed, and it is no more him/her that lives in him/herself but Jesus (Gal 2:20). It is no more him/her that wills in him/herself but God (Phil 2:13). Thus a person born of God does not sin anymore (1John 3:5-9).

              Anyone who fails on elementary doctrines, rules, or law of God is never considered having Christ, but merely a person who tries to build his own righteousness by his works.
              ...WISDOM giveth life to them that have it. (Ecclesiastes 7:12)
              ...the ISLES shall wait for his law (Isaiah 42:4)
              https://philippinesinprophecies.wordpress.com/

              Comment


              • #8
                Ephesians 5:25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

                Just as Christ washes us towards sanctification, the living waters , fruit, can revitalise the dead.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by The Remonstrant View Post
                  It can be difficult to sincerely pray for or be desirous of any good to come upon our enemies or those who mistreat, abuse or use us, but the greatest prayer we can ultimately pray is for the salvation of those outside of Christ. Without a doubt, loving the unlovable can be very hard. We tend to think merely of the here and now, but those who die outside of Christ will be without hope in the age to come. It is a grave matter. Perhaps we would actually wish for their damnation. We don't want anything to do with some persons. It would seem better if they had never existed.
                  Originally posted by phat8594 View Post
                  The Christian thing to do is not just 'desire' good for them [i.e., one's enemies] - but to actually do good to those who have wronged you.

                  With the Holy Spirit, comes the empowering to begin to act like our Father. God doesn't merely do good to those who do good to Him, but He is good to both the just and the unjust. Likewise, we become like Him when we do good to those who do evil towards us -- we give without expectation of a return -- we go from the transaction mentality of the world (I give to benefit myself) to life with a generous mentality (I give to benefit others)-- we go from a life under law to a life abounding in grace. [Emphasis added.]
                  I do not see where I disagree with you. In fact, in the very next paragraph (following the one you quoted from the opening post), I wrote:

                  Originally posted by The Remonstrant View Post
                  Maybe I am alone in this, but my first inclination is toward justice. Yet I recognize if God dealt with me according to strict justice, I am done for. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to extend the grace of God towards others in prayer and real life. After all, they don't deserve it. Do we have a genuine will for the ultimate good of our enemies? If we're honest with ourselves, the answer may be a resounding "no". Enemy-love in theory may sound romantic, but in practice it is perhaps the most difficult thing for one to do. It is certainly not something we can do in our own strength. We must remember that love for our enemies is only made possible by Christ's prior love for us as sinners alienated from God. [Emphasis added.]
                  While it is true that I did not elaborate or go into any great depth on the practice of doing good to one's enemies above, it should nevertheless be clear that I was not limiting the notion of enemy-love to merely having a genuine desire for the good of others (namely our enemies). Yet if we do not desire the good of others we will not wholeheartedly act toward the benefit of those persons. One's actions are indeed important, but an individual's motives are as well. I'm inclined to believe you would agree.

                  Originally posted by RBerman View Post
                  I find within myself and others a desire for justice for their misdeeds, but clemency for my own. But Jesus standard is that we should wish for others the same mercy we wish for ourselves. The way we speak does give insight into how well we have absorbed that mindset.
                  Originally posted by phat8594 View Post
                  In fact we should go beyond just 'wishing' for others the same mercy we wish for ourselves, and we should actually give it: . . .
                  Your point is well-taken, but I do not see either RBerman or I disagreeing with you. Theory and practice are to be held in tandem. Who of us would disagree with the practicality of faith (James 2:14-26; 1 John 3:16-18)? None, I'd venture to say.

                  On the other hand, is it not theoretically possible for persons to engage in all manner of good works for others with wrong motives? Surely it is (cf. Matthew 6:1-4). The rightness of one's heart before God is paramount. You would concede this, would you not? If we are rightly related to God through faith in Christ, we will consistently bear fruit for God. I believe we are all in full agreement that one's faith will ultimately be confirmed by his or her works.

                  What is it we're disagreeing about again?
                  Last edited by The Remonstrant; 04-30-2014, 10:25 AM.
                  For Neo-Remonstration (Arminian/Remonstrant ruminations): <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by The Remonstrant

                    On the other hand, is it not theoretically possible for persons to engage in all manner of good works for others with wrong motives? Surely it is (cf. Matthew 6:1-4). The rightness of one's heart before God is paramount. You would concede this, would you not? If we are rightly related to God through faith in Christ, we will consistently bear fruit for God. I believe we are all in full agreement that one's faith will ultimately be confirmed by his or her works.

                    What is it we're disagreeing about again?
                    I was more expounding upon what you wrote -- not disagreeing with it.

                    However, I do believe that sometimes (at least in American culture), we put such an emphasis on the 'feeling' part more than the 'doing' part. (I am not saying that you are doing this). There seems to be this idea that we must act according to how we feel...lest we be 'fake'. Personally, I think its a load of self centered hogwash....but I digress...

                    IMO, we sometimes try to get our feelings worked out before we actually do the good -- rather than just worry about doing the good. Although, in a perfect world, our feelings would always be lined up with what is good before we do good - this is not practically the case, 100% of the time. Better that someone do good to someone (although they may not feel like it) than for someone to 'wish' good on someone and not actually do it (think James 2).

                    That being said, I don't believe that you have to 'feel' like blessing someone to actually have good motives. IOW, if you do good to someone (although you might not 'feel' like it) simply because it is what God wants -- that is good motive enough. Matthew 6:1-4 is in accordance with this since the question comes down to:

                    'Do you do good works to please men, or to please God?'
                    Last edited by phat8594; 04-30-2014, 11:10 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by phat8594 View Post
                      I was more expounding upon what you wrote -- not disagreeing with it.


                      Originally posted by phat8594 View Post
                      However, I do believe that sometimes (at least in American culture), we put such an emphasis on the 'feeling' part more than the 'doing' part. (I am not saying that you are doing this). There seems to be this idea that we must act according to how we feel...lest we be 'fake'. Personally, I think its a load of self centered hogwash....but I digress... [Emphasis added.]
                      I quite agree with your observation regarding the obsession with feelings (I have turned to books to do away with those). Now I believe I am able to better understand where you are coming from.

                      Originally posted by phat8594 View Post
                      IMO, we sometimes try to get our feelings worked out before we actually do the good -- rather than just worry about doing the good. Although, in a perfect world, our feelings would always be lined up with what is good before we do good - this is not practically the case, 100% of the time. Better that someone do good to someone (although they may not feel like it) than for someone to 'wish' good on someone and not actually do it (think James 2). [Emphasis added.]
                      This immediately draws my mind back to a section in C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. He essentially remarked that we should concern ourselves with doing the right thing and the feelings will follow. The point, then, is to not get ourselves worked up in order to do the right thing. For him, the basic idea is that we put the cart before the horse when our focus is primarily on how we feel about this particular person or thing instead of seeking to do what is right first.

                      Originally posted by phat8594 View Post
                      That being said, I don't believe that you have to 'feel' like blessing someone to actually have good motives. IOW, if you do good to someone (although you might not 'feel' like it) simply because it is what God wants -- that is good motive enough.
                      Thank you, phat, for your elaboration. I am actually finding myself in agreement with your basic sentiments. In my opening post, I suppose I was merely ruminating on the human inclination toward desiring swift justice against one's foes rather than his or her genuine well-being. But your focus on action is a good addition to my comments above as well. Christianity must extend beyond well-wishes, but action (as you have rightly pointed out). Instead of spiting our enemies, if we do good to them, this may lead to their repentance. At the very least, we may conquer evil with good, rather than being overcome by evil (cf. Romans 12:20,21).
                      For Neo-Remonstration (Arminian/Remonstrant ruminations): <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>

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