Matthew 3:8-10 “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Two things speak strongly to me from this passage. The first is that fruit is vitally important. Jesus Himself said that “By their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:20) However, in thinking about fruit we have to remember that a tree doesn’t decide on its own what kind of fruit it will produce. You can’t get oranges from an apple tree! Of course, oranges and apples are both good, but there are also trees that produce inedible fruit. What governs the fruit is the character of the tree. That’s why repentance must not be a matter of words only. If there is no heart change, then there will be no change in the fruit, and John makes it clear that’s very dangerous. We aren’t very good at changing our own hearts, but we have been given the ability to choose. If we choose humility before God, if we choose obedience to Him, then He takes care of everything else. A tree doesn’t get anxious over whether it can produce fruit, it just expresses its nature in season. The second thing that speaks to me here is that we aren’t indispensable to God. That might sound pretty severe, but John is pointing out that God, as the Creator, can make for Himself anything He likes. Frankly, sometimes I wonder about God having created mankind as we are and putting up with our nonsense as much as He does! However, He wanted children and not robots, and any parent can tell you children don’t automatically do what their parents would like. That said, we must not take God’s grace and mercy for granted, but seek to please Him out of gratitude for all that He has done for us.
This passage is intensely personal for me, because God brought it to mind at a crisis point in my life. Cathy had suffered a miscarriage, and the doctor made it clear that another pregnancy would be quite life-threatening for her. We had two daughters, but I really wanted a son. That was when the Lord brought to mind the line about raising up children out of stones, and He spoke it to me as sons, and not simply children. I am very proud of my biological daughters and wouldn’t trade them for anyone, but God has indeed given me some spiritual sons, and I am very grateful. At the same time, I am also very aware that spiritual children don’t always do what you would like, either! I am to pray for my children, both biological and spiritual, but continuously yield them to their Father in heaven, because I can’t control them and it wouldn’t be good if I could. I am to keep watch over my own fruit, allowing God to tweak my character to bring it more in line with Christ, and I am to speak the truth in love to all my children so that they too may choose full obedience to God.
Father, thank You for all that You are doing. Help me be fully responsive to what You tell me to do, but not be anxious about any of it. You know the two sons I am particularly concerned for at the moment, and You know their situations far better than I do. I ask Your very best for them, that they may produce the fruit for which You created them, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!