One of my favorite things about summer when I was growing up were the afternoons spent driving our rural roads in search of farm stands selling fresh fruits and vegetables. They always tasted so much better than what you purchased at the market and there is a reason for this… All the beautiful red apples, sweet yellow pears, and plump red strawberries are picked before they fully ripen and “gassed” to accelerate the ripening process. This makes them look like the perfect piece of fruit when you select them. But what is on the inside? Often it is a piece of fruit that is fairly tasteless when you take a bite. You can’t always judge fruit by its appearance.
God’s Word talks about another type of fruit. It is the fruit in a person’s life, what their life produces whether for good or evil. And in this area we are allowed to make judgments. In James 5, verse 20, we are told to confront believers caught in sin and help them towards restoration. We cannot do this without first judging their behavior based on God’s Word–not based on a comparison of our behavior, but on His standard for us all.
But we tend to shy away from any type of judgement, lest we be accused of being judgmental. What we often forget is that we make judgments every day. Who should minister in our church? Which friends are good for my children? Should I date that person? We can’t make decisions without making judgments. When it comes to others, the bible says to look at their life: “Different kinds of fruit trees can quickly be identified by examining their fruit. A variety that produces delicious fruit never produces an inedible kind. And a tree producing an inedible kind can’t produce what is good. So the trees having inedible fruit are chopped down and thrown on the fire. Yes, the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit produced.” Matthew 7: 17-20 (Living Bible)
It is never our job to judge a person’s worth or what they can become in God, He is our final Judge. We must never say that someone cannot be redeemed. No matter what “fruit” they are producing, God can work in them and bring about change. He does that for all who ask. But we can look at someone’s actions and base the decisions in front of us concerning them on those actions–just look at their fruit!