A while ago I heard this story about a frog and a scorpion that illustrates this teaching rather well. It went something like this.
A frog and a scorpion stood on the bank of a river and wanted to get to the other side. The scorpion could not swim and so he asked the frog to let him ride on his back. The frog said no because he knew the scorpion would sting him and kill him. But the scorpion promised not to sting him, and besides if he did they would both drown and die.
The frog thought this made sense and so he relented. The scorpion climbed on the back of the frog and they set off across the river. But as they reached the halfway point the scorpion stung the frog. The frog in pain and in his dying breath said, “Why did you sting me when you promised not to and now we will both die?” The scorpion replied, “I had to do it because I am a scorpion.”
No Bad Tree Bears Good Fruit
The moral of the story above is that the scorpion did what he did because it is the heart of the scorpion to sting.
Jesus taught that no good tree bears evil fruit and no bad tree bears good fruit. He also said that every tree is known by its fruit. In this he says that you will know a person by their fruit too. It is the fruit of a tree and likewise the fruit of a person that will tell you whether they are good or evil.
What is the Fruit of a Person?
The scorpion above did evil because he was evil.
It is the same with people. An evil person will always do evil in the same way that the scorpion did evil.
The final scripture in this section says, “…out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Verse 45) Whatever is in the heart of a person will determine their thoughts, actions and the words from their mouth. If a person has evil intentions in their heart, then that is hat will come out of them.
The words, actions, deeds and behaviours are the fruit of a person. As a fruit tree produces fruit so too a person produces actions and works. And similarly as a fruit tree may bear good or bad fruit depending on whether it is a good or bad tree, then so too a person will do good or evil dependant upon the desires of their heart.
How Does This Help Us?
Because the Lord has instructed us that we will know a person by their fruit, we can watch a person over a period of time and assess whether they are trustworthy or not. By listening to their words and watching what they do in many situations we can assess reasonably accurately what is in the heart of a person.
Some people will do anything to gain an advantage over others. Some will operate on the basis of “what’s in it for me.” Some will be helpful and offer support and assistance to others in time of need.
Every person will show the kind of person they are in their heart through what they say and do. And thus we can learn who can be trusted and who cannot, who to believe and who to ignore, who to listen to and who we should steer clear of.
Some will try to gain advantage with words that sound good, but watch them and their true hearts desire will be evident. Just as the scorpion could not change his evil behaviour but hid it under a lie for a while, so too evil people will hide under lies until their true nature is revealed for they cannot hide it forever.
(Picture sourced from stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu/ taken by Neil Vannett)
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