Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.
Matthew 12:33, NIV
John Chapman, better known as “Johnny Appleseed,” is remembered for planting thousands of apple trees in Pennsylvania and states farther west during the early nineteenth century. But planting apple seeds is like buying a lottery ticket; apple trees do not bear fruit identical to the seed that was planted. In Chapman’s day, when a tree was found that bore a desirable apple, branches from that tree would be grafted to rootstock to continue getting the desired fruit. In other words, a tree was deemed to be good only if its fruit was good.
On more than one occasion, Jesus said the same thing: Bad trees produce bad fruit, and vice versa. That is, “a tree is recognized by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33). Paul used the fruit metaphor to discuss good and bad in the spiritual realm when he gave examples of “the fruit of the Spirit”—traits of Christlikeness reproduced by the Spirit in the life of the Christian (Galatians 5:22-23).
Our primary responsibility is to examine the fruit we ourselves are bearing. If we claim to be of Christ, we must also be like Christ.
Faith does not proceed from ourselves, but is the fruit of spiritual regeneration.
1 Chronicles 27–29