Are we derailing our own life?
I have seen pastors fall, marriages crumble, relationships deteriorate, ministries compromised and faith, possibly in jeopardy. There are 2 behaviors, often unbeknownst to us, that are threatening our stability as believers.
To what extent, only God knows.
Whether the visible symptoms appear through addictions, divorce, conflict, unbelief, or rebellion, the root issue can often trace back to one of these two behaviors.
The harsh reality is that we can be the very ones derailing our lives into the hot mess we find today.
How did Jesus warn us?
A Tree and Its Fruit
43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
The Wise and Foolish Builders
46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” Luke 6:43-49
As I read these verses, I am struck that Jesus thought this needed saying. His instruction always had a purpose, sometimes it isn’t so obvious to us. Surely, no one in their right mind would ALLOW evil to dwell in their heart or compromise the foundation of their house on purpose.
Why would Jesus choose to address this?
No one WANTS to fail.
And who WILLINGLY bears bad fruit?
I think as believers, we don’t recognize what is actually happening and the resulting danger lurking in our future.No one wants to believe THEY are the bad tree bearing bad fruit! Click To Tweet
Knowing the devil’s schemes to derail our faith and our own propensity to remain naive, Christ used this opportunity to educate His disciples.
What are the dangers?
If a Christian doesn’t willingly bear bad fruit, there has to be an ignorance involved. We must be unable to recognize that we aren’t the good tree we think we are.
Jesus goes on to clarify that there is no mistaking the reality of the outcome. Good fruit equals good tree. Bad fruit equals bad tree. A tree is recognized or identified by their fruit. There is no misidentifying a disease-ridden tree.
He goes on to make the comparison of the tree to our “heart”. Christ teaches that a good man brings out the good stored up in his heart just as an evil man brings out the evil he has stored up. So if the outcome is unquestionable, the beginning must be.
I venture to say as believers, we mislabel ourselves as a good tree when in fact, we are resembling the bad tree. We are mistaken about our own category, even our own “fruit”.
Now how does that happen?
2 Ways we derail our lives
SELF-DECEPTION -the action or practice of allowing oneself to believe that a false or unvalidated feeling, idea, or situation is true. In essence, we see what we want to see.
DENIAL – failure to acknowledge an unacceptable truth or emotion or to admit it into consciousness, used as a defense mechanism. In this regard, we refuse to see the truth.Self-deception and denial are diseases damaging our reputation as a good tree. Click To Tweet
Where does Scripture place the responsibility?
Jesus makes no bones about who is ultimately responsible- deceived or not. The fact that He is warning us is proof.
When Christ point blank asks them in verse 46 why they call Him Lord but won’t do what He says, that is the accountability we cannot avoid as His followers. The ultimate outcome is not determined by our own views of ourselves but our actions that prove our identification.
If we don’t put His words into action, building our life upon His truth and perspective, then our “house” will come tumbling down.
And what is our “house”? It’s US!
Our life (our relationships, careers, ministries, reputations, etc.) and our future.
What this means
There IS accountability, whether we stick our head in the sand and refuse to believe it or not. Jesus is warning that being self-deceived or living in denial is NO EXCUSE and there WILL BE CONSEQUENCES.
Make no mistake, God will not be mocked.We will reap what we have sown, no matter how hard we try to place the blame somewhere else. We will not be able to plead “ignorance”.
When lives derail and relationships splinter, we are left at a point of examination. We must examine the fruit. The pattern of behavior testifies louder than our own self-deceived labels of being a good tree with fruit we don’t deserve.
At the site of our crumbled houses, we are forced to reconcile the foundation our own hands built with the blame we place on everyone/everything else.
Self-deception and willful denial undermine the life we long for. God-given blessings come conditionally, by living in agreement with what Jesus has said. Honest examination, taking responsibility, the actual application of God’s Word to our perspective and behavior, these are what it will take to remain on course in the life of faith. Unless there is mental illness preventing rational examination, we have no excuse.
Following God’s plan
God is clear, He has expectations of us.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22
If we want to be able to truthfully call Him Lord, we must bear the fruit of that now.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? James 2:14
Now is the time to examine the fruit of our lives and the foundation we claim. Is it in accordance with what Christ has taught or are we fooling ourselves?
There is coming the day when it will be too late to ask these questions. We want to know His view of us NOW, not when we see Him face to face.