Is Your OJ Okay?
"Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit … Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
(Matthew 7:17-18, 20)
Our juicer is my favorite new toy in the house! I enjoy going to buy fruits, veggies and nuts from produce outlets. I like the labor intensity of cutting up, storing and prioritizing the fruit according to perishability, but I really relish the challenge of concocting an organic drink with no added sugar that delights the varied palates of my family members. I am indeed… The Juice Master!
Oranges are among my favorite items to juice.
I love their color, their citrusy sweet flavor and their versatility in a variety of combinations of fruit and vegetable medleys. But I’ve learned something about oranges: When I carefully select an orange for its copious size and apparent ‘juiciness’ I often discover that the fruit on the inside is markedly different from what its exterior promises. The ‘skin’ (orange part) and the ‘pith’ (white part underneath the skin) are often so thick that what appeared to be a large piece of fruit promising a great amount of juice is actually a quite small piece of fruit offering only a moderate amount of juice. The nature of the orange can be quite deceptive for the avid juicer.
In the text above, Jesus makes three observations about human nature using trees and fruit as illustrators: Observation number one, Good trees produce good fruit. number two, bad trees produce bad fruit, and number three, you can know people by what their life produces. These observations about people are generally true and very simple. But the oranges in my basket at home augment Jesus’ point in a more nuanced and subtle fashion: “Good trees produce good fruit …bad trees produce bad fruit … and some ‘good fruit’ is not as ‘juicy’ as it appears to be on the outside.”
Much like oranges, if we are not self-aware we can ‘posture’ to be more than we actually are, because we have never grown comfortable with whom we’ve become. Authenticity is a central character trait that means we realize that we don’t have to promise any more ‘fruit’ or ‘juice’ than we can offer at any given time.
Not to mix metaphors but Jesus put it this way in John 15: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” All of our fruit and juice capability comes from the True Vine (Jesus). If we don’t produce fruit God (The Gardener) cuts us off because we are not properly connected in relationship to The True Vine. But if we DO produce fruit God ‘prunes’ us by cutting away all of the self-posturing, impression-managing ‘extras’ that we use to bolster our standing among people.
So beware. God loves you just the way you are but He’ll use life’s circumstances to cut away everything in your life that He can’t use and that is not reflective of the true you. It turns out that He is a more avid Juicer than I am.
Do you ever feel pressure to posture about how much "juice" you have to offer? How is God pruning your branches? Join the discussion in the comments.