Luke 6 v 43. “No good tree bears bad fruit nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.”

In many ways this is a self-evident parable. The fruit of a tree is a fool-proof indication of what kind of tree it is. In the same way a person’s actions, words and attitude are a fool-proof indication of the state of his heart – his inner self.

The problem is we often deny the evidence regarding ourselves to avoid painful conclusions. We often excuse ourselves for our faults and foibles and in this way deceive ourselves. For instance, we cannot excuse our bad language by saying: “Oh, I just lost my temper for a moment”, or after insulting our spouse saying: “You know I didn’t really mean it.” This is self-excusing nonsense. We have no right losing our temper in the first place. It is simply bad fruit and we need to repent.

It is true of course that Christians can, and often do, say and do things that are out of character with their faith in Christ. And this is why we have such wonderful verses such as 1 John 1 v 9 in the New Testament.

But Jesus is here not referring to the occasional lapse into bad habits, which we are all guilty of, in our human frailty. Rather He is referring to the constant, ongoing conversation of a man or woman. If their conversation and their lives are constantly full of evil things, whether these things are great or small, it indicates an evil heart. A man’s talk (and a woman’s also) is the overflow of the heart. What is predominant in the heart is what will come out. The new birth provides a moral judgement which acts as a kind of filter for our hearts. Sometimes it is true; a bad thing can escape the filter: that is our human fallenness. But when bad things predominate a person’s life, yet they claim to be Christian, they are clearly deceived.

If the general tenor of a person’s life is evil, the source must be evil too, that is the heart. Just as there can be no break between the connection between a tree’s fruit and the nature of the tree, so there can be no break between the constant flow of evil words and deeds in a person’s life, and that person’s heart. They stand in need of the new birth or they will be lost forever, whatever their claims may be.

Where do you stand on the matter of roots and fruits?