Jesus teaches that everybody produces some kind of fruit. “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45) Good fruit comes from those with good hearts, and evil is produced from those with evil in their hearts. This seems to be a simple concept, but most people rip this verse out of context and apply it to the wrong people in the wrong situations.
Let’s look at today’s Scripture along with yesterday’s, which is one of the clearest passages that reveals the fruit of our lives is the fruit of our lips: “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:43-45) Verse 45 clearly continues the discussion about recognizing in ourselves what type of tree we are, so we will understand what fruit we will produce (see A Tree Is Known By Its Fruit from yesterday). It is not how you appear, or how you act, or how you dress that matters. What matters is what’s in your heart. And this is revealed by the fruit you produce, so we must look at our fruit to be able to view ourselves through God’s eyes.
The Lord told Samuel to go to a certain place to look for the king for Israel. Samuel looked through human eyes, when the Lord wanted Samuel to see from His perspective: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). The Lord doesn’t look at our outward appearance; what others can see that we do for others. No, He looks at our hearts. Even actions that appear “good” to the world, may not appear good in the Lord’s eyes, depending upon our motivation for the deeds we do. “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor 13:3)
When we actually listen to the words that come out of our own mouths, we hear what others’ do. If they are not encouraging, loving words then we need to get on our knees and ask the Lord to “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10); for He promises: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezek. 36:26-27).
God must do the decisive, miraculous heart transplant, heart replacement. If we are going to escape the hardness and deadness of that heart, the old heart has to be taken out, a new heart has to be put in; this is God’s sovereign, gracious, saving work, and the effect of it is new, tender, obedient love toward God. But the Lord also tells us that we have our part to do: “Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!” (Ezek. 18:31). We are also told: “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (1 Peter 3:8). So how do we do that?
The biblical picture is that God does the decisive work of heart transplant and heart circumcision and heart unhardening, and we are immediately participants in this miracle as conscious, intentional, willing actors renouncing the old heart, cutting away with all of the opposition we can muster the old life, and embracing the new and feeding the new tenderness of heart on God’s word and by God’s Spirit. What activities will unharden our heart?
There are at least three things we are called to do as we participate in acting this miracle that God is performing: 1) beholding or seeing, 2) hearing, and 3) trusting.
- We first look to Jesus with the eyes of our hearts: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18)
- Secondly, we look to Jesus with the ears of our minds: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).
- And thirdly, we trust in the Lord: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)
When our hearts are softened by the Holy Spirit and we live for Christ and not ourselves, we will walk and talk in the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:22-25) And the fruit of our mouths will reflect Christ, and not our sinful nature. “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Col. 4:6)