For each tree is known by its own fruit. –Luke 6:44

Jesus closed His Sermon on the Mount with three parables about the importance of listening to and acting on His words.

First, Jesus told a parable about sight. He said, “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” (Luke 6:42). Some people say, “We should never try to correct anybody about sin. That’s judging.” Have you ever had something in your eye? It’s terribly uncomfortable. The most loving thing somebody could do would be to help you get that speck out of your eye. Of course, they would have to make a judgment that what is in your eye is bad and shouldn’t be there. The most loving thing you can do for somebody who is caught in sin is to help them get rid of that sin and be restored to a right relationship with God. But before you can see clearly to help them, you need to deal with your own sin.

Second, Jesus told a parable about fruit. He said, “There is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit” (vv. 43-44). Imagine you have an apple tree in your backyard, and it is producing delicious apples. You know that tree is alive because it is producing fruit. However, if you go out during fruit-bearing season and there is no fruit, then you know the tree is dead. Where there is no fruit, there is no life. All the things Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount about loving your enemies, praying for those who hurt you, and standing firm in times of trial–these are not the means by which we become Christians, but they are the proof that we are Christians. If we are truly saved, then our lives will produce the fruit that Jesus describes in Luke 6.

Third, Jesus told a parable about construction. He said, “Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them … is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great” (vv. 47-49). Two men each built a house, and both houses experienced storms. One house stood; the other house fell. What was the difference? It all had to do with the foundation. Every one of us is building a life. You can build your life around pleasure, recognition, and material things. That is a life built on the sand, and when the storm comes into your life, nothing will remain. Or you can build your life around hearing and applying Jesus’s words. The wise person is the one who hears Jesus’s words and builds his life on that solid foundation.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Crux of Christianity” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.