Make the Tree Good


Elder Mark Green

Matthew 7:18 “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”

Our Lord here establishes the principle that the fruit produced by a tree will be like the tree that brings it forth. We expect to see peaches, not apples, on peach trees. This is as true in moral matters as it is in our natural affairs. The offspring will be consistent with the parent; the product will not differ from the source. The absolute word “cannot” settles the issue.

Matthew 12:33 “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.”

Here the Savior goes a step further and sets forth two principles that are closely related to the one above. First, in order for a tree to produce a particular kind of fruit, it must be made that kind of tree. Thus, if a tree had been a bad tree, in order for it to make good fruit, it first would have to be made a good tree. Make the tree good, and in that making the fruit is also made good, for the tree will bring forth fruit consistent with its nature.

Second, the fruit does not make the tree what it is; it manifests what it is. The nature of the tree is made known by the nature of the fruit. Many years ago I set out a pear tree and an apple tree in my yard, but probably because of the proximity of cedar trees in our pasture, they never prospered to the point of producing fruit. I am not a botanist, and I frankly forgot which tree I had planted where; and after a while I did not know one tree from the other. Finally, in frustration, I cut down the trees and cast them into the pasture. Had one of the trees grown a pear,    I would have known what it was; but it never did, and so I was left in ignorance of its nature. Sinful conduct (fruit) is produced by a sinful nature, but this is no surprise, since this is true of all mankind. However, we frequently see good fruit in a man, and when we do, we can immediately conclude that there has been some “making” done by God. Where there had once been no fountain to bring forth sweet water, now there was one. Since the water is sweet and the fruit is good, then the Savior teaches that the tree or source must first have been made good; otherwise it could not have produced good fruit.

Brother Paul plainly says that faith is a fruit of the Spirit. It is produced by the Spirit of God. Absent the Spirit, it will not and cannot be there. Without exception, spiritual faith is certain evidence of the presence of the Spirit within the heart of a man. It is amazing that so many people cannot see in the religious arena a principle that they accept without thought in virtually every other area of life.