Judging Properly: Changing Our Heart, Not Merely Our Clothes

Judging fruit is something we do everyday.  Do your deeds match your words?  That is a judgment based on the fruit of a life.  How successful is your business?  That is a judgment based on the fruit of a business? 

It is a natural thought process for us.  We know how to do it.  We intrinsically understand the value of judging by the fruit.  In the middle of presidential election primaries we are troubled because we have trouble finding the fruit through the leaves and the limbs.

Why is this troubling?  It troubles us because we know, without being told, that the limbs and the leaves are meaningless.  It is only the fruit that matters.  After all, we do not eat the leaves; we do not eat the limbs.  We only eat the fruit.  And we only eat the fruit when it is good.

This natural principle has a spiritual base.

Jesus spoke a lot about fruit.  He discussed judging trees by their fruit.  He discussed the fact that good fruit does not come from thorn bushes.  We know the principle that everything reproduces itself after its own kind.  Beavers give birth to beavers.  They do not give birth to platypuses.  We do not question the nature of this we understand it.

Nonetheless we do not approach our judgments within the Church with the same logic.  I have seen many preach that there are rules for living a Christian life.  These same people argue that the Catholic Church is wrong because they believe in salvation by works and not faith alone.  Yet, these same people create rules and regulations that we are judged by.  How long is your hair?  Do you wear pants?  What Bible do you read?  These are rules added to the message of salvation by faith and faith alone.

The way I see it, I could not live by the rules, or the law.  Therefore, Jesus came to fulfill the law and become a sacrifice on my behalf.  He paid the price that I could not pay.  Now it seems that I have to live by a new set of rules in order to receive the free gift of eternal life through Jesus.  It is counterintuitive to me.

We are doing the same thing in our judgments of others.  Jesus judged everything by its fruit.  What we are doing is judging the tree by its limbs or its leaves rather than by its fruit.  While we can tell what the tree is by the leaves, they are not the mark of the health of the tree.  Only the fruit tells us what is at the heart of the life.  The fruit shows the health or lack thereof.

We tell people there is freedom in Jesus.  They believe us and come into the kingdom and then we give them a copy of the new rules. 

Why do we feel the need to add to the requirements of Jesus?

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Books Worth Reading

C.S. LEWIS--Mere Christianity; CLAIRE BERLINSKI--Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Crisis, Too; BRUCE BAWER--While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying the West from Within; DAVID LEVERING LEWIS--God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215; THOMAS SCHIRRMACHER--The Persecution of Christians Concerns Us All; PHILIP JENKINS--God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

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