“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 7:19)
When John the Baptist begins his ministry, he compares people to fruit trees. Later on, Jesus does the same. The point of comparison is that trees can be recognized by their fruit, and people can be recognized by their lives and work. Their outer behavior shows what is in their hearts. Therefore, John urges his hearers to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8).
Both John and Jesus stress how important it is to produce good fruit, and thus to have a pure and repentant heart. “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:10, 7:19). A fruit tree bearing bad fruit is useless. It is chopped down and used as firewood. That is a terrifying metaphor for God’s judgment on people who don’t repent, who don’t subject themselves to Jesus, who don’t want their hearts to be cleansed by His forgiveness.
People who repent, are forgiven and receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39). And that becomes visible in their lives: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). That is good fruit indeed!
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