Fruit Doesn’t Lie

Nobody has ever walked up to an orange tree and picked a fresh ripe apple. Nobody has ever found zucchini growing on a tomato plant. In fact, you would think I was crazy or pulling your leg if I claimed it was possible. Everyone knows that a tree can only produce fruit of its own kind. Why is then we all try to ‘fool’ others with the fruit of our lives?

Brethren, does a spring pour forth from the same opening fresh water and brackish? Can a fig tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh. Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. Unfaithful creatures! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is in vain that the scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace; therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

James 3:11-18;4:1-6

One thing I like about reading from the Letter of James is how he ‘calls it like he sees it’ for the sake of our salvation. He is a good spiritual father. He wants us to be better. Too often we find Christians, clergy and laity alike, that are more concerned with their popularity than the salvation of others.

Of course, Saint James is not alone, but today’s passage is a ‘go to’ for me when I meet with people. The reason is because of the perceived conflict between today’s Epistle and Gospel. Christ says (see below) “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you are receiving it, and it will be yours.”

The Lord said, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you are receiving it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

Mark 11.22-26

Saint James is addressing what we are all thinking. “Christ told us to ask, and we ask. If we don’t get what we ask for, something went wrong.” The something is our prayer has become selfish, so God said ‘no’ when we asked.

What do fruit and failed requests have in common? It is our hearts. When our hearts are focused inward, the fruit of our lives will be focused on us rather than God. The fruit of our request is determined by our hearts. Bitter hearts produce bitter fruit and selfish requests.

If you don’t want bitter fruit, then soften your heart. If you want others to see a Christian that loves God more than himself, then love God more than yourself. Sounds simple, right? If it were that easy, Saint James wouldn’t have needed to say it in the first place.

The only way to produce pure fruit is to develop a pure heart. This may sound impossible, but that is where God’s grace will complete what is lacking. He doesn’t expect a perfect heart, only a pure heart. Even the best fruit tree has a few crooked branches.

Let God prune your heart through a life of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and a full sacramental life in the Church. Learn to develop a pure heart that loves God more than anything, and you will produce fruit.

Ignore your heart. Refuse to fast. Pray only for yourself. Come to Church services only when you have nothing else better to do. Just don’t expect pure fruit. Fruit doesn’t lie.

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