“Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.”
One of the greatest life-lessons that people need to learn is taught in the verse above. Jesus was talking about the Pharisees in this verse, and he continues in the next verse to talk about how they were a “generation of vipers.” Why is it that Jesus called them “vipers?” He called them vipers, not because of the good things they did, but because of the fruit they produced.
Two things are presented in this verse, the tree and its fruit. The tree is most often what people initially see. When you look at the outside of the Pharisees and how they lived, you would have to say that they were good people. However, a tree also has fruit, and the fruit is what tells you what kind of tree it is. Likewise, though the outside works of the Pharisees seemed good, and though they were probably good citizens in their day, the fruit they produced was evil and poisonous. Jesus was warning that it is not just what they say and do in public that you must look at, but you must also look at their fruit to determine if the tree is worthy of eating from.
Sadly, many in Christianity miss this great truth. Many look at the tree of a work and testify that they don’t see anything wrong with the tree. Many people look at the tree, or what they see of a preacher and deem him to be a good man. In society he may be a good man; however, God wants you to go further into what a ministry or preacher seems to be and look at the fruit of the ministry and preacher to determine if that ministry or preacher is actually a tree of good works or an evil and poisonous tree. Two lessons you need to learn from this verse that will save you much heartache.
First, what a person says doesn’t always portray their fruit. Verse 34 says, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Many ministries and preachers may say the same thing that you would say, but their words are a mere facade to cover the liberal rot on the inside. You better look beyond the sermon that a preacher preaches. You better look beyond the name of their church and what they claim to be. Anybody can say the right things, but that doesn’t make them the type of tree from which you should eat.
Second, the fruit that a ministry or preacher produces says more about what type of tree they are than the words they proclaim. Sadly, many believers are fooled by the nice buildings, the pleasant messages, and the feeling they get when sitting in a service or hearing a preacher preach, but they fail to look beyond the beauty of the leaves on their tree to see what type of fruit they are producing. The fruit a ministry or preacher produces is far more important than the beauty of their buildings. The fruit a ministry or preacher produces is of greater significance than the feeling you get by sitting in their services or hearing them preach. You must be careful that you don’t let emotions determine the tree you see, but you must look beyond your emotions to see the fruit they produce.
Let me encourage you to be careful about letting the tree of a ministry be what draws you to them. You would be wise to look at what they produce to determine if their fruit is the same fruit that God wants produced. Always remember that God puts the emphasis on the fruit and not the tree.