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Fruitful Living is a Matter of the Heart

October 15, 2020 • Life for Leaders

Scripture – Luke 6:43-45 (NRSV)

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.”

Focus

If we long to live well, we should certainly pay attention to the “fruit” of our lives, to our actions and words. But goodness in living issues forth from the goodness of our hearts. True fruitfulness isn’t putting on a show. Rather, it’s an expression of a good heart formed by God as we engage in spiritual practices that help us be transformed by God’s grace.

Today’s devotion is part of the series Following Jesus Today.

Devotion

In Luke 6:43-45, Jesus observes that good trees bear good fruit. When we produce abundant good fruit, then God is glorified (John 15:8). Jesus understands that we have been created by God for fruitfulness (Genesis 1:28). According to our spiritual DNA, we yearn to be trees that grow lots of good fruit. But this leads to an obvious question: How? How can we be good, generously fruitful trees?

Jesus helps us to answer this question in Luke 6:45: “The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of the evil treasure procures evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.” Good actions, including good speech, issue forth from heart, specifically from “the good treasure of the heart.”

In Luke 6:43-45, Jesus joins the image of trees and fruit with the notion of the heart. From my observation of nature, this juxtaposition makes lots of sense. I have often observed how a tree must have a good “heart” to be vital and strong. A tree with a bad “heart” may not survive. As you know if you read Life for Leaders often, I love to go hiking in the mountains of California and have done some of my favorite trails dozens of times. Part of what I enjoy when hiking are the trees, which are pleasant to the sight and good for shade. Many times, however, when I redo a favorite hike, I’ll discover that some tree has fallen, broken apart during a recent windstorm. Inevitably, I’ll notice that this apparently strong tree was actually rotten on the inside, hollowed out by disease, drought, or insects. It had appeared to be healthy, but its “heart” was deficient. That’s why it didn’t thrive.

Jesus’s discussion of trees and hearts shows that if we want to bear good fruit in life, we need to pay attention to what’s on the inside, to our inner lives, to our hearts. We tend to think of the heart as the center of human emotion. For Jesus, however, the heart includes but is not limited to feelings. It is also the organ of discernment, judgment, and choosing.

Though it’s certainly true that our behavior issues forth from our hearts, I believe it’s also true that our behavior shapes our hearts. Having a good, godly heart comes through study, reflection, and prayer. But it also is the result of engaging in good, godly practices and disciplines. Our hearts will be formed through a life of marinating in God’s truth and living according to God’s righteousness. Such formation happens when we are alone, to be sure, but also when we are together with the people of God. Here we find teaching, support, encouragement, and accountability. Here our hearts are shaped by our common worship, prayer, and missional actions.

If we long to live well, we should certainly pay attention to the “fruit” of our lives, to our actions and words. But goodness in living issues forth from the goodness of our hearts. True fruitfulness isn’t putting on a show. Rather, it’s an expression of a good heart formed by God as we engage in spiritual practices that help us be transformed by God’s grace.

Reflect

What’s the state of your heart today, really? What’s going on inside of you? What are you thinking and feeling?

What are the things in life that are forming your heart?

Are you aware of the ways you would like your heart to be transformed?

Act

Set aside a chunk of time to reflect on the state of your heart. Ask the Lord to show you what’s really going on inside of you. You may want to talk about this with a wise friend, pastor, or spiritual director. Pay attention to your persistent thoughts and feelings, to your longings and losses. Talk with God honestly about what you discover.

Pray

Lord Jesus, today I am struck by your simple statement: “The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good.” I want to be this person! I want to be someone with a good heart, someone who produces good.

I thank you for all the ways in which this is true, thanks to your grace. You have been at work inside of me for a long time and you are still working. Thank you for forgiving my sin and cleansing me from unrighteousness. Thank you for increasing my passion for truth and justice. Thank you for helping me to see myself clearly, both the good and the bad.

Lord, help me to engage more faithfully and gracefully in the practices of your people. As I do, form my heart to be more like yours. Replace what is evil in me with what is good in you. Set me free from the sin that binds me. Give me a powerful longing for you, your kingdom, and your righteousness.

May all that I am, all that I do, and all that I say be for your purposes and glory. Amen.


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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: I am the Vine and You are the Branches (John 15)


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4 thoughts on “Fruitful Living is a Matter of the Heart

  1. Thomas Isaac says:

    powerfull-who can know the heart Jer 17:9, now I can know my Heart through the word…Luke 6:43-45. THank you

  2. Guy Troup says:

    This is a really helpful reminder to keep prioritising time with God in his word and with his people. Thank you!

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