Hello friends! Today, I wanted to dive into the passage below (Matthew 12:33-37) and break it into pieces so we can study it more easily. This passage is rich and convicting, and I believe it has a message that we all need to hear.
“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. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
– Jesus (Matthew 12:33-37)
1) The Tree Is Known By Its Fruit
If a tree is healthy, has clean water, plenty of sunshine, and it is far away from any sort of disease, the tree will produce healthy, juicy, fruit. If a tree is diseased, weak, and in a dry area, the fruit will subsequently be unripe, small and measly. It might get rotten before it even turns ripe.
Suppose you had two pieces of fruit in your hand. One was large, brightly-colored, plump, and juicy. The other was smaller, hard, with bruised spots, and was a pale brown color. What would you infer about the trees they came from just from looking at the fruit?
Jesus is using a very simple picture to show people how the human heart works.
I once watched an American Girl movie based in Colonial America. In one scene, the grandfather is talking to his granddaughter after the grandfather and father have gotten in a fight. The grandfather says, “Words of anger are never from the heart.” That’s what the world wants people to believe. But Jesus says something different.
2) Heart Fruit
If someone’s words are uplifting, encouraging, fun, wise, lovely, and admirable, that shows you what is in their heart. If someone is constantly encouraging and lifting others, it shows that they are humble and they care for others. If someone is wise and is constantly teaching others about God’s Word, it shows that they have God’s Word stored up in their hearts. If someone is fun and lovely in what they say, it shows that they treasure the beautiful, unexpected, joyful moments of life.
If someone’s words are discouraging, dirty, rude, foolish, and repulsive, that gives you a very clear look into their heart. They discourage because they are proud or they are insecure in who they are and thus they try to put others down so they can feel high up. When they constantly make fun of someone they are doing the same thing. Their words are dirty and repulsive because they treasure sin. They are rude in their talk because they find themselves to be above the person they are addressing. They consider that person worthless. When their words are foolish, it means they haven’t stored up God’s Word in their heart.
You may think, “Breanne, that’s way too harsh.” But I didn’t come up with it. Read the verse again. That’s what Jesus was getting at.
3) Good Can’t Come From Evil
In verse 34, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees He is talking to. Although the Pharisees’ words seemed good, Jesus knew what their hearts looked like. Their hearts were evil.
So even when they spoke “encouraging” or “good” words, their intentions and wants were self-exaltation, honor and self-righteousness. They wanted to do good so that they could be seen and known and respected. But Jesus said that that wasn’t “good”.
4) Good Treasure
Whatever you treasure up in your heart, that’s what’ll come out. To treasure up means to hold or keep as precious. What is most precious to you? Your reputation, or God’s? Acceptance and praise, or God’s presence? The words of others, or God’s Word?
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
The more we treasure and store up God’s word in our hearts, the more we pour out that treasure. When we give importance to something, it changes our actions.
5) Accountable For Every Careless Word
When I read this passage, this is what got me. We will stand in front of God, and He will hold us accountable for every word. Those careless insults, those empty foolish mockery-filled words. He says we are accountable for them.
We will be condemned or justified because of them.
But wait, you might say, didn’t Jesus die for our sins? Yes! He did. Romans 8 verses 1 and 2 say this: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
If you are a believer, you will not be condemned.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
However, we do not take grace for granted. If you are a believer, you should strive for purity, not trying to see how far you can bend the rules.
If we are bearing bad fruit, we need to have a heart check. What are you treasuring? What are you deeming important?
Disclaimer: I struggle with making fun of others because I am insecure in a certain situation, or putting people down because I think they are immature or “bad”. I care more about what others think than what God thinks, most of the time. Because what comes out comes first from the heart.
Some take away questions and thoughts to chew on:
When it comes to the words you speak, what areas do you struggle with? Do you tend to make fun of people? Or do you use crude language? Do you use your words to brag, and make yourself look bigger so everyone else feels a little bit smaller?
Why do you think you struggle in those areas? What sinful things are you treasuring or storing up in your heart? What are you prioritizing in your life, God, or something else?
What simple steps can you take to treasure the right things first? Remember, it’s the heart change that needs to happen first. What insecurities need to be addressed with God’s Word and His promises? What pride needs to be brought down when compared to the glory of the Maker of the universe? Memorize Scripture that addresses the heart issue, and meditate on that Scripture. Pray that God would change your heart and help you treasure the good and lovely.