By their fruit you will recognize them. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Matthew 7:16
Seeing the fruit gives the tree away. Anyone can tell an apple tree from a coconut tree. Can we do anything to the roots to improve the fruit? Yes, fertilize.
Loving people fertilizes roots. that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, Ephesians 3:17
The prodigal son did not produce good fruit. In fact, his behavior was rotten. Sitting in the slop of wasted fruit, memories of his father drew him toward home. His father joyfully received him, but the elder brother judged him for his rotten fruit.
Zacchaeus was a rotten little tax-collector. But when Jesus fed his roots, Zacchaeus produced generous fruit. The gospels are full of examples of Jesus feeding people in their innermost being (roots) and how that changed them (Peter, prostitutes, Legion, Martha, Nicodemus,…).
Paul was a rotten persecutor of the church until he got knocked off his ride. Later, he produced fruit (epistles) that still feed.
Fertilizes roots by two methods: 1. personal (reading the Bible) and 2. others (giving encouragement or teaching). Keep your roots deep in Him, build your lives on Him, and become stronger in your faith with thanksgiving, as we taught you. Colossians 2:7
As a personal exercise, draw a tree that includes the root structure. Draw some fruit on the tree. Next, list the fruit that you see in your life near the fruit on the tree (good fruit, underdeveloped, and rotten). List your fertilizer around the roots. Ask yourself these questions:
What must I do to produce better fruit?
What can I do to fertilize the roots of myself or others?
Do I react like the father or like the older brother?
Would I describe the way I deal with people as gracious?
How well do I understand others’ roots?
Can I see the connection between the fruit and the root?
Does my behavior create a reaction or a response?
How can I be like Jesus and give loving fertilizer?