Though it might be hard to believe I come from a family of farmers. I have had a small share in working the ground and raising livestock. When I was a teenager our family had the good fortune to have families we were friends with and we shared in the labors of each other’s farms. One or those families purchased a large peach orchard and hoped that it would be a good investment.
Despite the beautiful flowers and the green leaves and even spacing that gave that large orchard such a wonderful and cultivated look when the first harvest grew in all of the peaches were rotten. Not just one or two but all of them were. The entire crop was worthless. Even though that family held out hopes that it was a bad year the next years’ harvest was the same. The trees were good for nothing. They looked good, smelled good, and did all the things a peach tree should do… except grow good peaches.
After that season we plowed all the trees down, piled them into large piles and set them on fire. They were taking up valuable space that could be used to cultivate good crops that would in turn yield profits for the farmers. So we cleared out the land, burned the trees, and converted the orchard into a cattle field. There was no sense in keeping around trees that did not bear fruit and did not keep the wishes of the masters of the land.
Much like trees, people bear fruit in the lives. It may not be tangible fruit that can be eaten like a regular fruit tree but it is there all the same. Some of us bear the fruits of the spirit and others bear fruits of our selfish nature. And these fruits are seen in the way we act, our attitudes; our true desires all come to fruition when the actions of our lives are brought forth. These fruits can either be sweet and useful to the master or they can be rotten and good for nothing but to be thrown out.
Jesus taught about this idea in Luke chapter 6. Jesus was teaching people the proper way to judge and encouraging them to get their own lives right before they corrected another person. Out of this teaching comes our principle for this week. Let’s take some time to read the entire chapter of Luke 6. Then let’s look at one part in specific:
Luke 6 (NLT):
 “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.
This is the truth about our spiritual lives: Our heart intent is shown in our actions. We cannot escape it in the long run. We may fool a few along the way and look as though we are truly doing good things for God but in the long run (whether in this life or the next) it will all be shown for what it truly is. We either serve God or we serve ourselves. There is no other way about it.
So many times we claim or even convince ourselves that the things we do are for God’s glory when we are really seeking the spotlight for ourselves. Let me put it another way; if you were given a ministry position that no one would ever notice and where no thanks would ever come your way would you be joyous just to be serving? Or would you harbor ill will in your heart? Would you be thankful to help bring others into the Kingdom of God or would you be jealous of those who get to stand in the spotlight?
I have fallen in the latter category so many times. I wanted the position everyone saw and who got the praise. Even if I did the work of the service position in my heart I was envious of those who were getting the pat on the back. My heart should have been to realize that every job and every position is important if it brings people to Christ. Every part in ministry is valuable whether one is taking out the trash and cleaning the floors or rocking crying babies in the nursery. So many times I have not been thankful just to have the priviledge of serving our great King.
So here is my challenge for the week: what is the desire of our hearts? Is it to gain praise for ourselves? Or is it to give glory to God no matter where we are put? Does our heart reflect that of Christ in that we are willing to do whatever it takes to seek the lost and teach them about Christ? The overflow of our hearts shows the fruit in our lives. I pray that we would be trees that bear good fruit and are useful for the kingdom.