A MIRROR IN OUR MOUTHS!
"You don't get wormy apples off a healthy tree, or good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It's who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.
"Why are you so polite with me, always saying 'Yes, sir,' and 'That's right, sir,' but never doing a thing I tell you. These words I speak are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on.'" Luke 6:43-47 (The Message).
There is huge wisdom in Jesus' simple stories and illustrations. All the sages and wise teachers on earth with all their intricate philosophical ideas have not taught us about real life as accurately as He has -- and He drew His wisdom from the natural world which everyone can see if we would only look and learn.
Here is a very basic law which would shock us if we took to heart what it is telling us. In nature it's the root that produces the fruit, not the other way around. 'Of course, we know that,' we respond, but do we realise the implications?
Jesus has just given us a simple prescription for defeating our enemies by turning them into friends. 'Be generous and gracious,' He said. 'Be gentle and humble. Don't treat people the way they treat you. Start a new chapter by turning the tables on them. Be as kind to them as you can and you'll put an end to the enmity right there because it will have nothing to feed on.'
Why did He have to say things like this? Isn't it just because we do treat people the way they treat us, just like everyone else in the world does? If someone insults us, we take it a step further. If someone hurts or offends us, we engage in character assassination by telling everyone around us what he or she said or did. We try to defend ourselves by stabbing our enemy in the back. We make ourselves look good by making the other person look bad.
The real issue of which we are blissfully aware is that our words and actions say more about us than they do about the person who wronged us. That is exactly what Jesus was pointing out. Our words and deeds are like a surgeon's knife. They cut us open right to the heart and show everyone around us just what we are like! Our words and actions are the fruit of what is inside -- the root.
James was Jesus' brother. He grew up with Him. He must have listened to His wisdom many times and been angered and frustrated by what He said because, after all, He was only his brother, and no-one takes a brother seriously. But after he came to faith in Him, he took to heart his brother's teaching and reproduced it in his letter.
"With our tongues we bless God our Father, and with the same tongues we curse the very men and women He made in His image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! My friends, this can't go on. A spring doesn't gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it...?" James 3:9-11 (The Message).
Why is this? Jesus gives us the simple answer: "You never do a thing I tell you." His words are simple and make a lot of sense. They are not incomprehensible theological treatises or complicated philosophical ideas. They are the simple observations of nature, and they work in nature so why not in our lives? Because we ignore them and do it our way.
We would be horrified if we thought people could see into our hearts but we don't realise that we have a mirror in our mouths and what we say is constantly giving us away!
So why not take Jesus seriously, turn the tables on our "enemies", act like we love them and experience the change that God supernaturally produces when we choose to do the right thing?
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