Judging a tree

“No one is so deceived as the person who believes
he has everything figured out.”

“Every tree will be known by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33). Recounting his personal journey towards the end of his life, the brilliant British philosopher Sir Roger Scruton told of strolling through London as a young man in the turbulent sixties, and stumbling into an angry mob of demonstrators: “I saw a group of radicals destroying and throwing stones at policemen, and I said ‘Whatever these people are for, I am against.” That inflection point set Scruton on the path towards becoming one of England’s premier thinkers and cultural influencers. Sir Roger looked at a “tree” and judged it by its fruit.

Those who are serious about apprenticeship to Jesus take truth seriously; we want to stand squarely on the side of integrity. So it follows that faithful disciples will always live welcome correction, repentance and the opportunity to change our minds when necessary. (No one is so dangerous or deceived as the person who believes he has everything figured out). But when we live in a culture of contradicting narratives, censorship, disinformation, and media-shaming, it can sometimes be difficult to know which narrative is “truly” true.

I believe one reliable indicator of truth is the fruit test: Does this group, this news organization, or this ideology promote peace and order, or violence and chaos? Does it build-up, or tear-down? Does it produce anger and bitterness, or gentleness and love? Can I see in these people a humble hope in God, or the pride of arrogance? Even a child can tell good fruit from rotten.

Undeniably, two worldviews are locked in a brutal competition for the future of the world. It’s a terrifying sight. But the disciples of Jesus will remember that we are called to be a “tree of righteousness”, a tree whose fruit will be given for the healing of the nations.

“… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” -Galatians 5:22-23

(A good introduction to Sir Roger Scruton is his timeless documentary, “Why Beauty Matters”)

5 thoughts on “Judging a tree”

  1. There are some things I’ve done in my life that I’m so ashamed of and wish so much I could take back. In fact, when I judge my own fruit, I’m aghast at the condition of my own garden sometimes! Still so much carnality! I relate with Paul’s lament in Rom 7 when he cried saying, the things I do, I don’t want to do and the things i don’t want to do, I do.
    And yet, it doesn’t absolve me of responsibility. I will still reap what I sow, whether seeds of love or…. not. There’s times when I welcome the pruning and other times, like with the current events where all I want to do is kick against the pricks!
    Ahhhhh… and once again, fall to my knees and say, “But God….” 💛💛💛

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    1. Linda… you are certainly not alone in any of this. You show such beautiful humility when you own your weaknesses and confess your mistakes. And I don’t need to remind you that Jesus is not only our Savior from sin but also our genius Redeemer who takes all things and weaves them together for good.

      As far as the shame, what our fig leaves were never able to hide, Christ has removed by His blood on the cross. He has left nothing undone! When I look at you I see a glorious child of God dressed in the righteousness of God himself!

      He is faithful in our weaknesses until we get it right by His strength!

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      1. Oh Don! My heart leapt when I read “genius redeemer”!! I sooo needed that beautiful reminder!! Thank you! Too many times I’ve wanted to hide my nakedness with my own crazy version of a fig leaf only to discover His great grace & love in revealing the counterfeit!! I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I can relate to Cinderella’s wicked step-sisters & their ridiculous efforts of trying to shove their foot into a shoe that was never meant for them. Again, Don, I thank you for the beautiful picture of how you see me covered by His righteousness!! His glorious, royal robes! Our Kinsman-Redeemer, our King!
        And…. I wish we lived closer… I’d love to hear you play again! 👏

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  2. That´s an awesome way to bring truth to this world…. sometimes we are to be truth holders and we have to be brave because of the task that was placed in our life: Defend the one truth that can build this up… Thanks Don!

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