43 ‘No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit;

44for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.

It all starts with the heart. Before behaviour, doctrine, theology, ethics, justice, rules or regulations, there is the heart. I will never get to the right outcome if I start in the wrong place.

If I begin with a preoccupation about any external behaviour, I will end up with judgment, condemnation, and lies. The right place to start is with a concern for the inner state of my heart. But the inner state of my heart is revealed by the external fruit it produces.

Does my behaviour bear testimony to a heart that is a tree with “thorns” or a “bramble bush”? Or does my behaviour demonstrate that my heart is a tree capable of producing lush succulent figs, or a vine that produces sweet tasting grapes?

It is so tempting to stay focused on judging and condemning the behaviour of others. I am never in a position to judge; but I can be a fruit inspector. And all valid fruit inspection always begins at home, with a willingness to examine honestly the manifestations of my own life.

I can produce the sweetness of good fruit, or the lacerations of a thorn bush.

If the words of my mouth leave people feeling brutalized and depleted, I need to look honestly at the condition of my heart.

What might I need to do to connect with the “good treasure of the heart” that is my true nature? How do I work on my heart?

What are the disciplines of the heart that can help me live the honest, fruitful life to which Jesus calls me?