Known by Our Fruit
Today I want to tell you a story. A lady I knew many years ago—we’ll call her Dorothy—knew more about the church and every member and visitor than anyone else did. She was fairly well known as the church gossip.
“One thing about her,” a friend said, “she’s not prejudiced—she talks about everyone,” and he laughed, then added, “She’ll probably get into heaven, but God may have to cut off her tongue first.”
One day as I stood near the front door at church, I heard Dorothy telling several people awful things about one of the deacons. “But it isn’t up to me to judge him,” she said, venom pouring from her mouth. She went on to mention several others, picking each one to pieces.
I listened to her and realized something: she was only speaking from what was already in her heart. That might seem obvious, but I could also see something else. Dorothy was so critical and filled with disgust for herself—how could she speak well of others?
Too often, people make promises that they’ll speak better of others and gossip less. Many times they do really try, but nothing ever changes. This is because they’re trying to change their words without changing their thoughts. This is a poor solution, because they’re starting at the wrong end. What they need to do is look inward and ask, “What’s going on inside of me?”
“For out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks,” Jesus said (see Matthew 12:34). As I considered those words, I felt a deep compassion for Dorothy. She had allowed Satan to fill her mind with critical, harsh thoughts about who she was. She didn’t speak much about herself, but I’m sure she was totally critical of herself internally, and when she spoke, those harsh words came out of her mouth about others.
As you can see, it’s easy to find the fruit of people’s lives in what they say and do. We can learn a lot about someone’s character simply by listening to their conversation; their words (their fruit) tell the truth about what’s going on inside.
Jesus said that a tree is known by its fruit, and the same is true of our lives. Everything begins with a thought. If we let negative and unkind thoughts fill our minds, they produce fruit in our words and actions. But the more loving our thoughts are, the better our fruit, and the more kind we’ll be toward others.
For example, if I believe God truly loves me, and I’m investing in and enjoying my relationship with Him, I’m planting good seeds in my own heart. The more good seeds I plant, the more good fruit I’ll produce. The more I think kind and loving thoughts, the more I see others as kind and loving.
Let’s go back to that verse again: “Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
Kind or judgmental words don’t just come to us—they come out of our mouths because we’ve cultivated them in our minds. The more we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s positive and loving thoughts, pray, and read God’s Word, the more good fruit we produce, and the better we can treat others.
Prayer Starter: Jesus, please forgive me for the harsh things I’ve said about other people, and for allowing critical thoughts to fill my mind—about myself or about others. I know I can’t make myself more loving, but You can. Thank you for helping me focus on healthy, positive thoughts so I can treat people better. In Jesus’ Name, amen.