October 12, 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.”
Jesus says that “each tree is known by its own fruit.” Good trees produce good fruit; bad trees grow bad fruit. With this observation, Jesus invites us into an honest, searching examination of how we’re living. What is the fruit of our lives? When we look at all that we do at work, in our relationships, in our community and beyond, what is our life really producing?
Today’s devotion is part of the series Following Jesus Today.
When we moved into our home in Pasadena, we knew we had several citrus trees in the backyard. But we didn’t know exactly what kind of citrus trees they were. Would we have lemons or limes? Grapefruits or oranges? Tangelos or kumquats? Finally, when the time was right, our trees bore their distinctive kind of fruit, and then we knew exactly what sorts of trees we had. (In case you’re curious, we have several lemon trees, one orange tree, and one tangerine tree, as well as a peach tree that showed up unannounced in our front yard.)
Our experience confirms what has been known for centuries. Jesus alluded to this common knowledge when we said, “each tree is known by its own fruit” (Luke 6:44). If you want to know what kind of tree you have, you need to pay attention to its fruit.
The same is true if you want to know what kind of life you’re living. Are you living a good life? Then you’ll see it in your fruit. The opposite is true as well. Bad living is correlated with bad fruit. Fruit, in this case, is a way of talking about our behavior, about what we’re producing by being alive.
So, this leads to an obvious question. What is your fruit? If you were to add up all that you’re doing in life – what you do for work, how you act in relationships, where you put your money, how you spend your time, and so on – what kind of fruit is growing on your tree? I know this is a simple question, one that you might be tempted to dispatch in a minute or so. But I’d suggest that it may be worth a little more time and thought.
As you reflect upon the fruit of your life, you might try this thought experiment. If your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers were to be given a dose of truth serum such that they had to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, how would they answer this question: What is the fruit of your life? What is your life producing? What difference are you making in this world?
Before I finish this devotion, let me close by saying a couple of things. First, I’d like to spend more time this week reflecting on Jesus’s teaching about fruitfulness. So, we’re not done with this conversation. Second, I believe that, for most of us, the fruit of our lives is a mixed bag. Some of our fruit is good; some is bad. We need to be honest about this. God will use our honesty to help us shift the balance in the favor of good fruit. Soon we’ll learn how this happens, according to Jesus.
When you consider the question, “What is the fruit of your life?”, what are the first thoughts that come to your mind? What would you say is your primary fruit?
What do you think those who know you best would say about the fruit of your life if they were given truth serum? What would they say is your good fruit? What might they say is your bad fruit?
When in your life have you felt especially fruitful? What might explain this experience of fruitfulness?
Ask a trusted friend or your small group for their input on the question: What is the fruit of your life?
Lord Jesus, thank you for teaching us in ways we can understand. Thank you for using the metaphor of fruit and trees to help us think about our lives from a fresh perspective.
Lord, may I be honest about the fruit of my life. May I see it, weigh it, value it properly. Help me to be unafraid to identify bad fruit, even as I am also bold to name the good fruit of my life.
May this exercise be more than a way of expanding my thinking. I ask that you work in me through your Spirit so that I might produce abundant good fruit in my life. To you be all the 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: John the Baptist Teaches Workplace Ethics (Luke 3:8-14)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.