Summary: Jesus proclaimed to the masses that the road to salvation is narrow and that those who would seek to build their foundations on Christ can rest in the promise of salvation. People are to be judged by the fruit they bear and many who call themselves Christians will be declared unknown by the Father.
Focus verses: 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Reflection: When I was in 3rd grade, my childhood home had a crabapple tree in the front yard. I was never a huge fan of apples in general, but the idea that fruit could grow so easily on our tree was such an exciting prospect. One day after school, my friends and I grabbed a step ladder and spent the afternoon picking crabapples off the tree with the hopes of having a tasty midday snack. To our dismay, the apples were bitter, gritty, and unpleasant to eat. We soon abandoned our little basket of apples and left them to shrink in the summer heat. As summer quickly turned to fall, our crabapple tree began to wither and drop its fruit. Decayed and yellowed, the apples started to ruin our lawn and leave patches of dead grass all over the yard. I asked my dad, “why does that tree have apples that you can’t even eat?” He responded, “that tree is good for nothing. One of these days, we need to cut out that tree, root and stem.”
How are we to respond when we do not bear good fruit on our branches? Good fruit, by nature, feeds and nourishes all those around it. On the other hand, bad fruit is useless and brings rot and decay and becomes a blight to all living things around it. I’m reminded that, unlike my crabapple tree, my fruit is not doomed to be bad forever. My fruit can go from bad to good, but can also go from good to bad just as quickly. My connection to God reveals itself in compassion for others, but when I'm disconnected from God, I feel aimless. I am reminded that Jesus wants to lead my life to follow the Father's design and bring blessing to others and bear good fruit.
Prayer: Dear God, may the burdens and distractions of this world be stilled in our hearts. You know that we are broken people who delight in sin and earthly things. May we see all the greater things You have in store for us. Without a regular connection to your word, all of our strength vanishes and we are left tired and uncertain. You had us in mind before we were even born and You chose our perfect purposes with the exact talents we need. As we grow closer to You, teach us how to follow You in our daily lives and listen to the Holy Spirit. Help us to be motived by love just as You have loved us first. In Jesus’s name we pray, amen.