Out of the Heart

I know that we are not supposed to judge others (see Luke 6:37), and that only God is able to see into the heart of a man (see 1 Samuel 16:7).

But right after command us to not judge, Jesus says:

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:43-45 (NIV).

So even though we are not to judge others in terms of pronouncing their ultimate fate — for only Jesus is our ultimate judge — we can still sometimes tell what another has stored up in their heart, whether it be evil or good, by the things that they say.

One who stores up anger, hatred, envy, jealousy, and pride in their heart will often speak ill of others, revealing the evil that they cling to. They will constantly complain about and judge others. Having people such as this in our lives can be truly exhausting as they are difficult to love as the Lord has commanded us to love.

Each of us must be careful of the words we speak and be aware of any evil in our own hearts that words of bitterness might reveal. When we see such bad fruit in the lives of others it is a good time to take an inventory of our own fruitfulness. It is also a good time to practice the lessons our Lord has taught us about how we are to live and not allow such evil to spread to our own hearts.

Above all, I believe the Lord calls us to be a witness to and pray for those in our lives whose bitterness, envy, and pride can cause us such grief. Quoting in part from Proverbs 25:21-22, the apostle Paul wrote:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
   if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17-21 (NIV).

When Paul, quoting from Proverbs, says being kind to your enemy “will heap burning coals on his head,” what exactly does he mean? According to Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, this phrase signifies “retribution by kindness, i.e., that, by conferring a favor on your enemy, you recall the wrong he has done to you, so that he repents, with pain of heart.” Vine’s pg. 107. In other words, by repaying another’s evil with kindness, you might cause him to return to the Lord and be saved so that Christ might reign in his heart.

But it is important to remember that it is only by the grace of God that we are able to treat the one whose bad fruit seems to plague our lives with love. It is Christ living in us who loves them and wants to change their heart, to destroy the evil in their heart and replace it with good, who is alone able to give us the capacity to show them love. For it is when we store up Christ in our own hearts that we are able ourselves to bear good fruit.

I am a Jesus Freak, and I don't care who knows it. I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. My blood family is only part of the larger family of Christ that I belong to. I love to write, especially about my dear Savior.


9 Responses

  1. Linda… wow, I like the way you brought so many related passages together. It’s hard to evaluate the fruit without judging the bearer. And it’s really hard to bear good fruit all the time. So many challenges, so much grace… thanks. : )

    • Linda, I think even the best of fruit trees has to endure some winter months when there is no fruit at all. But we must guard against the bad fruit, at least I know I do, by God’s grace. Peace, Linda

  2. Excellent post Linda, and quite challenging. “But it is important to remember that it is only by the grace of God that we are able to treat the one whose bad fruit seems to plague our lives with love.” Sometimes I forget. And then I become exhausted from trying to love them in my own strength. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. This is tough stuff, Linda . . .but important. Thank you and praying now for His help to love those that make it hard for me to love them . . whether they realize that or not. God bless you and the closeness of your walk with Him.

    • Deb, I do think that sometimes the difficult people don’t realize how difficult they are. They can be blinded to the evil in their own hearts. Praying God reveals His grace through you to the difficult ones in your life. Peace, Linda

  4. Our life as a Christian means always seeing others through the eyes of God and extending His wonderful grace. We are taught to love the sinner but hate the sin. And, yes, love our enemies meaning be kind to them regardless of what they have done for us and allow God to go to work on their hearts.

    Great post! Have a wonderful weekend!

    • April, These lessons that are for me are sometimes the hardest – and the easiest – to write about. I had no idea where this was going when I started writing, but God reminded me along the way of what I needed to remember. Peace, Linda

      • Yes, I have the same experiences in my writings at times…goes to show that we are only an empty vessel that we must allow God to fill us with His words to share.
        Have a wonderful week!

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