“. . . a tree is recognized by its fruit.” – Matthew 12:33
The lovely home of my wife’s maternal grandparents, Cecil and Virginia Dye, was surrounded on every side by enormous shade trees, notably all pecan trees. The tallest and most stately among them, so her grandfather claimed, had sprouted from a single pecan he had once dropped into a hole he had poked in the ground with a screwdriver many years ago, while making a bet with a neighbor whether it would grow or not. (He won the bet!) Each fall almost without fail, those pecan trees would produce a bountiful crop of nuts which they would gather, shell, and package as Christmas gifts for loved ones among whom we were recipients. It was a labor of love on their part, and so typical of their generous hearts that were as big as the trees themselves.
Once I recall wandering about in the yard beneath those trees with Cecil picking up pecans here and there when he made a remark I have never forgotten. “I have always believed,” he said, “that if you are going to plant trees in your yard, they should be trees that produce something.” Of course he would think that way, I recall thinking, since he was born and raised on a farm where every square inch of soil was for the purpose of producing something. So, I understood and appreciated the logic behind his remark.
With that conversation filed away in my memory, years passed. Eventually, I had the opportunity to retire from my corporate career and pursue a new profession. It had been suggested that in preparing for that new season of life I should write a personal mission statement to guide my life and work going forward, which turned out to be much more difficult than I had ever imagined; that is, until I happened upon this verse from John 15:16 where Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” There it was, my mission statement, “bear fruit – fruit that will last.” All at once that conversation about “planting trees that produce something” sprang from my memory, and I realized that wise philosopher Cecil Dye in his gentle way was teaching me much more about life than he was about trees.
Hasn’t it been God’s plan from the very beginning when He created mankind in his own image? His instructions were clear, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28). For, “a tree is recognized by its fruit.” As are we.