Matthew 7:17 speaks of good fruit stating that “…every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.” Verse 20 goes on to say that, “they will be known by their fruit.”
Looking at a single collection of scriptures is great – but I’ve always enjoyed going back to view the whole chapter to see the verse more in the context that it was meant to be viewed in. When we go back to look at Matthew chapter 7 as a whole, we find this:
Matthew chapter 7:1-23 NASB
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
Prayer and the Golden Rule
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
The Narrow and Wide Gates
13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
A Tree and Its Fruit
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
… For me personally, reading the “good fruit” verse with the rest of the story brings out clearly stated boundaries for us to live by. In a world where we are so constantly surrounded by negativity, be the steadfast good fruit that offers an alternative.
I recently had an experience where someone came to me to inform me of some harmful things another person had mentioned about me – and there I was left with a decision to make. We cannot live peacefully and simply when we have tension in our lives. We cannot control what others may say or how they may feel about us, but we can control how we react and the fruit that we choose to bare in return. Going back to verse 1-5 in Matthew chapter 7, it’s not our place to judge and we’re instructed that in the way that we judge, so is the way that we will be judged ourselves. A good golden rule to live by is to think before we speak and that if we have nothing good to say then don’t say anything at all. If negativity is your go-to, then I encourage you to search deep within your heart to find the “why”. Why is negativity your go-to? Is it with just that one person, with one topic, what is it that drives you there in the first place? Many times the very thing that we seemingly accuse others of is an issue in our own lives that we choose to bring false attention to in the lives of others.
The offender and the “offendee” can both choose life in this scenario. Choose to bare good fruit. Choose life. Choose to respond in love. Choose to believe the best. “For they will be known by the fruit that they bare…”