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Jan 4 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Day Thirty-eight – Matthew 12:33-37

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. . . The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. Matthew 12:33, 35 

First of all, let’s be clear regarding the people who had critized Jesus. They were “good people” in terms of their devotion to God and the Scriptures (v. 24). When it came to following God’s commandments, they were the best. How is it that these upright and deeply religious people could say evil things about Jesus?

The Lord Jesus was an artist when it came to bringing ideas to life through the use of vivid symbols. He painted stories with words that beautifully illustrated complex themes. In this instance, he painted a still life; a tree and its fruit. Any fruit that is “pleasing to the sight and good for food”–Ge. 2:9; providing nutrition as well as tasting good–can be traced back to the tree on which it grew. Conversely, a poor tree produces bad fruit.

Our words are the fruits and our hearts are the trees that produce them. If we say evil things about people, it says something about the condition of our hearts–that they are not planted in good soil, or getting enough water, or they have some kind of disease. Therefore, the hearts of people will be judged on the basis of what they do with words; whether they use them to heal or to harm, to bless or to curse, “For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned (vv. 36-37).

The piety of the Pharisees did not produce in them a good heart. A person can be totally devoted to their doctrines or religious ideals and rituals, yet evil and cruel in the way they treat others.

With the perception of a trained artistic eye, Jesus sees through the sanctimonious image we project. He is not taken in by our pious jargon, but sees into our hearts.

O Lord Jesus, this poor world has been abused by people who speak evil of others in Your name. We pray that You will tend to Your orchard, prune and water it according to its needs, and develop us into the kind of trees that promote Your love and goodness in the world.

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