Mt 7:15-20 Fruit From The Family Tree
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Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them.”
I was really surprised when I saw him. He was back with his family and they were happy to have him. After almost two years of “being dead”, the prodigal son had returned to his senses. Or had he?
I had good reasons to suspect he was up to no good. But I wasn’t sure. Then one night, I received a text message confirming my suspicions. A member of the family wrote and said, “After a beautiful evening spent together, my brother let his true colors show when he asked mom and dad to loan him a ton of money. They said no. At that, he burst out the door throwing a fit (and not a few horrible insults) vowing never to return again.”
I knew it. Few people change overnight.
Recently, I had lunch with a man who had a problem on his hands. He allowed his twenty-five-year-old niece to move into his home with his family. She said she needed some time to pay off her credit card debts. She promised it would be for only 10 months. Well, after two years, five vacations, and almost one thousand dollars spent in a single day at the Dallas Galleria, she’s still living with them. She was ‘visibly upset’ when told she had to leave in two weeks.
She didn’t need a place to stay. She needed a good talk and a kick in the pants!
Making good fruit out of bad trees. For the longest time now, we’ve been trying to produce good fruit from bad trees. In other words, we’ve been trying to get good results from bad decisions. It won’t work. But we keep trying, and our nation keeps spending billions (maybe even trillions) of dollars fixing problems rather than preventing them. Let me give you one example out of thousands. Our government will give free bibles to any inmate that asks for one. But it won't give a free bible to any student that asks for one. Why is it? Why are we so backwards? Why are we so decadent in our religious intolerance? When did Jesus Christ ever hurt anyone? When did the federal government ever hurt anyone? Ooh…ooh…I know…I know!!!
Making good fruit out of a good tree. Many Americans think that poor people need handouts. I agree. But what kind of handouts do they need? What handouts did the Irish or Italians, or Jews or Chinese or Koreans receive? Many!! But none from the federal government. Instead, the government insisted that they get help from family and friends. And so, knowingly or unknowingly, government strengthened family ties. You can still see the remnants of this reality when you visit “Little Italy”, “Chinatown”, “Little Havana”, “Irish Town”, “Little Portugal”, “Little India”, “Greek town” “Little Saigon” (or not so little “Saigon Mall”), etc…
For every good the government does, it demands a break in ties (especially religious ones). Whereas with families, every good they do ties them closer together.
Rich people keep telling us that they are better off than the poor. But if you ask poor people what they think, they will tell you that they are better off than rich people, and in many ways. In fact, the poor will say (from experience) that if it weren't for them, rich people would find life meaningless! I think they are on to something. After all, from my personal conversations with our rich and yuppie families, it seems as though their greatest joys come from helping poor people. In fact, rich kids tell me they find more pleasure in life when they go on missions rather than when they go to Ft. Lauderdale. They learn more of life's lessons from poor people than they do from their rich parents! They're envious of how closely knit the families are. What do poor people think of all this attention? Are they surprised to hear it? No. They can see it for themselves.
A good tree bears great fruit, regardless of whether or not it is a banana tree or an apple tree or an orange tree. A poor family bears great fruit just as much as a rich one. Is one better than the other? In some ways yes, and in other ways no.
Of course, you can accuse me of never being poor, or being an idiot, a fanatic, a republican, a libertarian. But strangely enough, the one thing I cannot be accused of is being wrong. Go visit a poor, but dignified family. Ask them what they think.
We love to do experiments, especially bogus ones. We love to shoot a bullet through a watermelon to see what result it will have (like we don't know). When it comes to social engineering experiments, we do the same thing. Just like an atomic bomb, we drop an idea from the sky (as if the earth was one gigantic lab) and cut and run before we can wait and see. Most of us will be dead before we see the consequences of our brave new ideas. We haven't got a clue what to expect or what we will get. We are a lot more cautious and careful with our environmental decisions than we are with our marriages, families and children. A farmer knows that if he plants an apple seed, he will get an apple. If he plants an orange seed, he will get an orange. It would be ridiculous for the farmer to expect an apple tree from an orange tree. But for some strange reason we think if we redefine marriage, family and even children, then we should get better than great results on our children and families. Hmmm. Interesting.
What do you think we will get the day we have the best schools ever, the best technology ever, the best government ever, the best social programs (like health care and social security) ever? What do you think we will get if we spend 1 trillion dollars more on public school education and teachers salaries? What do you think we will see if we spend 1 trillion more on fitness centers and weight loss clinics?
You know what I think? Without strong families, strong marriages and a strong faith, we will get the same results you get from a bad tree: bad fruit.
Money can buy a lot of things, but it can’t produce a loving and faith-filled family. In fact, it tends to spoil them rotten.