“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.
“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? (Luke 6:43-46 NLT)
There is a wildly successful fast-food chain that loves to tout the number of people they have served on their sign. Outside of every restaurant it says, “Billions Served.” Billions! That’s a lot of people. Interestingly, not many of those billions of people would say that they eat at this particular restaurant because of the quality of the food. No one says, “Wow! That was the best thing I have ever eaten!” upon taking a bite of one of their burgers. The food isn’t bad… but its not that good either. Still, billions of people eat this food daily and the company is wildly successful. Recent studies, however, have shown that the billions who eat too frequently at restaurants such as this one do so to their detriment. Much of the food they serve can actually contribute to health problems rather than nourish the body and promote health the way good food can. You might say that this restaurant is more interested in producing a lot of fruit than it is in producing good fruit. Some might even go so far as to argue that they have built their success on producing bad fruit.
In church world we have long used the following as our primary measure of success: People in the pews and offering in the plate. Interestingly, healthy churches rarely use these criteria as the primary measurement on their scorecard. Healthy churches don’t simply look at how many people attend their worship services, they look at what is happening in and through the lives of those who do. They look at what flows from the heart of those who are engaged in the life of the church and the impact it is having beyond the walls of the church building. Are there less people hungry in the community as a result of what is flowing from the heart of those in the church? Are there fewer people in lonely or in need as a result of what is flowing from the heart of those in the church? Are there more people coming to faith in Jesus as a result of what is flowing from the heart of those in the church? Interestingly, churches that use these kinds of criteria as their primary scorecard often don’t struggle with things like attendance and offerings. A healthy tree produces good fruit, and that which is healthy tends to grow.
What kind of fruit should we focus our efforts on producing through the life of our church? Good fruit. Obviously. So let’s pay particular attention to verses 45-46. Lets not get distracted from Jesus, who is the very heart from which all this good fruit flows. Lets fix our eyes and ears on Jesus. Let’s watch what he does and listen to what he says and allow him to bear fruit —GOOD FRUIT — in and through our lives!