What’s in the soil?
Updated: Dec 3, 2019
This week's post was written by Kevin Gemmer, Pastor and church planter for Reconciled Church which is set to launch in Febrauary of 2020. We're grateful for his partnership and look forward to hearing more from him!
Today’s reading comes from Luke 6 verses 37 thru 45:
37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.
41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye.
43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
The Christian life involves both a responsibility to self-discipline as well as a responsibility to lead others. Now, when I say lead others, no doubt will someone will say “Well! I am not a leader.” However, we have to distinguish between an office of leadership and a position of leadership. A politician, if he does not feel well equipped for public office can resign from his position. However, if a dad says he doesn’t feel like a naturally gifted father, the solution isn’t to give up on his children but to learn how to get better at it. Some positions of leadership are unavoidable.
When Jesus said you were the light of the world and the salt of the Earth, there was a level of influence and leadership implied. When He told the church to go make disciples, this too implies a certain level of leadership no matter who you are. Just face it, to be a follower of Jesus inevitably makes you a leader to someone else. To be a Christian requires that we bear some amount of mutual responsibility towards each other.
Jesus’s words here approach positions of authority from a few different angles. In verses 37-38 they address those who seemingly have the moral high ground over another and find themselves in a place to judge them. Jesus reminds us to consider how you are judged before passing judgment on another (with the obvious application to show mercy). In verses 39-40 He draws our attention to those who lead us. Look for people you want to be like to learn from is another obvious application.
Verses 41-42 lead us back to self-examination. In order to be able to help others (“take the speck out of their eye”) we need to first be aware of those moral blind spots in our own lives.
Last, Jesus gives us a metaphor of trees and the fruit they bear. Good trees bear good fruit. Bad trees bear bad fruit. Pretty straightforward. Without over reading into Jesus’s parable, all that a tree will become and produce is found in the seed itself. The fruit only gives evidence to what the tree already is, but it cannot change it. Try as hard as it might, the apple tree will not one day sprout a banana.
So what if I look at the fruit of my life and find only brambles but no figs? What if I find that gossip, slander and envy (some of my own personal struggles) are all that my life is producing? Am I then constrained to a life of only these?
Here’s the good news and also where the illustration falls apart- God is in the habit of planting new seeds in the old soil. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps. 51) the psalmist wrote. With God all things are possible. What is fundamentally needed is a change of heart which only God can give.
What then do we do? I have two suggestions. First, ask God to change you. All the striving and laboring will never change what is in the initial seed of your heart. Trust God to do what only He can do and ask for it. Second, feed the good seed. You can’t control what’s in you, but you can determine what behaviors you will encourage. Disciplines like Scripture reading, prayer, hospitality and generosity nourish that which is good in our hearts, that which is of God. This week, decide to water the good seed in your life.
Today let this be your prayer:
Create in me a clean heart, O God! I confess to you that there is wickedness in my heart and that I am unable to change it. Give new life to my soul. Give me a keen awareness of your mercy and grace towards me. Then Lord, give me the desire and focus to tend and care to that which only you can plant in my heart. Amen.