My rose bush produced the loveliest pineapples this year. Last year, it bore oranges.
Without much thought, you immediately knew that those statements were false. Why? Because what you plant is what you get.
A rose bush will only produce roses. (Unless you’re a genetic engineer who tinkers with this stuff. 🙂 )
This is also true concerning spiritual matters. The fruit we produce is determined by our root…our source of life.
Going back to the two trees from which Adam and Eve could choose, Life or the Knowledge of Good and Evil, I want to explore the fruit each tree bears.
Let’s begin with Evil:
The fruit on this branch of the Tree of Knowledge is guilt and shame. Our behavior gnaws at our conscience. Fear that we will be discovered develops. Unchecked, the conscience will become seared, and eventually we are no longer aware of shame at our core. It is possible that this will continue to spiral into deeper and darker behavior.
Think: Charles Manson, Adolf Hitler, or Saddam Hussein.
Ugh! That’s definitely not us. Let’s move on to Good:
The fruit on the “good” branch of the Tree of Knowledge should be much better. Love, joy, peace, and all that.
The fruit that is produced by our “good” behavior is this:
Self-satisfaction – “I am so good.”
Condemnation – “What they did was bad. They should behave better.”
Judgment – “What they are doing is evil. They should be punished.”
Comparison – “At least I don’t do ______ (fill in the blank) like those people.
Criticism – my group is the only one who has Christianity right. They need to behave like we do.
Vigilance – ever watchful of self and others to determine who is good and who is evil.
Social club mentality – carefully screen every person to determine whether they are “good enough” to be in our club. Avoid obvious sinners, lest they make us look “bad” in the eyes of other Christians.
Self-effort – strive to do the “right” thing, avoid the “evil” thing regarding actions and words.
Religion – a checklist by which we prove ourselves to be “good.” (Went to church – Check. Spent my obligatory time reading my Bible – Check. Spent 15 minutes in prayer – Check. Did a good deed when I didn’t want to – Check… You get the idea.)
Opinionated – due to endless mental effort, I have the answer to every problem. “You’re doing it wrong. Do it my way and all will be well.” When it comes to doctrine and theology, I will fight to the death for my view. I’ve studied my Bible for years and know the (little ‘t’) truth.
Of course, if we failed to meet our criteria of what a “good” Christian does, then we feel “bad” and avoid “eye contact” with God, certain that He is displeased with us, certain that punishment is coming.
You can see that love, joy, peace, etc. are nowhere to be found on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
As I stated in my previous post,
“Evil and good come from the same root. That root is self.”
The end result of eating from this tree is death.
Here’s our dilemma:
Whenever we choose to ‘live’ by the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, we are the judge of what is good…and what is evil.
The determining factor is self.
How does it make me feel? How does it affect me?
In this, we become our own god. Our life is small, for we are the center of our universe. Everyone else exists for our own good pleasure…and they must please us, or risk being judged as “bad” and then rejected.
Sadly, most Christians I know (myself included) live this way.
Is it any wonder that the world isn’t beating down our doors to “get” what we have??
John 15 is full of information about what it means to abide in Christ – the Bread of Life (read that: “Fruit from the Tree of Life):
- Fruitfulness (love, joy, peace, etc.) – Why do we interpret fruit only as “a big ministry” or “lots of converts”…productivity??
- Consistent answered prayer – because we have intimacy with Him and He tells us what He is doing…thus showing us how to pray.
- Confidence that we are loved – no need to hide, fearful of punishment.
- Full of joy – the burden of controlling the world, getting people to behave better, is lifted from our shoulders!
- Able to hear His voice, and so know what to do/say/understand in any given situation. We ask Him to explain what’s going on, instead of allowing the enemy to fill in the blanks.
- Filled with the Spirit – ever present to teach, guide, give insight, and flow through us to reach those around us.
“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” ~ John 7:38
When we are set free from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and partake from the Tree of Life, true transformation begins. We see others in a new light…and love those we previously judged to be unworthy of our good company. 😉
Further, when we can drop all the self-imposed”duties” required to run the world, we enjoy a lightness that cannot be described. All the mental energy consumed when we were absorbed with how to fix everyone around us left us drained. We come to life when we let the mental gyrations go!
Do not miss that the Tree of Life is all about relationship – with the Lord, and with others.
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, on the other hand, mostly destroys relationships – with the Lord (we’re sure we haven’t measured up, and so hide from Him), and also with those who don’t meet our standards.
What I am sharing with you does not originate with me. Consequently, I wish to give credit where credit is due. Since the beginning of April, I have been listening to Bob Hamp’s Foundational Class series. Just five videos – available online at no cost. No signing up, or signing in.
For this “try harder to do better” woman, the message contained within these videos has forever transformed me. (He also wrote a book, Think Differently, Live Differently.)
People are beginning to ask about the changes they see. How cool is that???
Funny, folks didn’t want to know where they could get some of my critical, judgmental, opinionated, argumentative behaviors and attitudes. Seems the world already has enough of those characteristics.
“You shall know them by their fruit.”
By what fruit are you “known?”
***Keep in mind that what I write is “what I did with what I heard” from the Lord through Mr. Hamp’s messages, and not exact quotes from the videos or his book, unless so noted.***