Can a “Bad Tree” Bear Good Fruit?

I’m still messing with the “good measure” passage in Luke 6:38. Or perhaps more accurately, it’s messing with me. Check out the background here and here.

Jesus and I had to take a walk through the RUV—Rich’s Unstandardized Version—when I read past verse 38.

“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. 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.” (Luke 6:43-45)

Here’s the gist of our conversation.

“I read those first two sentences and just want to give up. Obviously, it’s hopeless.”


“Sure. We both know I’ll never achieve “good tree” status. I KNOW how often I mess up. I know about the impatience and selfishness, the all-too-frequent episodes of ingratitude. I create a pretty attractive façade, but it’s all pretty paint over rotten wood. And I know that YOU know.

“So if a bad tree can’t bear good fruit, what’s the point of even trying?”

Jesus scuffs at the ground with His sandals. He always seems to wear sandals, even when it’s cold. I should ask Him about that sometime.

“Yeah,” He mutters, “you do face a real dilemma, for sure. Humans messed things up, and you’re never going to fix it.”

“Uh…I was hoping for something a little more encouraging.”

“Hey, I’m just agreeing with you. You’re exactly right… the gap between you and God is too big. Nothing you humans do will ever be enough to cross it.

“But, Rich, you’re always so quick to give up because you forget the most important piece of the picture.”

“What’s that?”

Jesus smiles and puts an arm around my shoulders. “Me.”

He could see I wasn’t making the connection.

“Look, the Father knew you could never reach up across the gap you created. So He reached down. He sent me. The healing isn’t your job—it’s mine.

“And it’s done. You’re healed, forgiven, redeemed, reborn, renewed—so stop fussing about it and get on with being my hands and feet.”

“Okay, but what about the bad tree/good fruit deal?”

He looked at me with that familiar look that says are you ever going to get this?

“Who says you’re the tree?”

My dumbfounded stare probably didn’t surprise Him.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. … If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15)

“So…You’re the good tree in the parable?”

The conversation sorta stopped there. I guess He figured that needed to sink in.

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Copyright 2008-2013 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site

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